The Top 50 Quarterbacks in College Football History

Martin Sondermann@@GamedayreporterAnalyst IIOctober 14, 2011

The Top 50 Quarterbacks in College Football History

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    Ask any 10 college football fans who the greatest college quarterback of all time is and you would probably get ten different answers. 

    The position has been played masterfully over the years by so many men that I found it difficult to only include 50 on this list.

    Because of that I have included my honorable mention list below:

    Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Dan Fouts, Case Keenum, Roger Staubach, Paul Hornung, Matthew Stafford, Terry Bradshaw, Ryan Leaf, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Mark Rypien, David Klingler, Danny White, Colt McCoy, Jim Harbaugh, and I could probably list twenty least. 

    The names on this honorable mention list might have been in your top 50, but not mine.  While, these guys were amazing at the quarterback position, I think I have come up with a list of 50 who were even better.

    Let's take a look...

No. 50 Ty Detmer

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    Ty Hubert Detmer was a quarterback for BYU from 1988 to 1991.  Detmer redshirted in 1987, played a little in 1988, and become the starter in 1989.  He worked hard to get that starting position, and once he landed it he made every snap count.  

    In 1989 he passed for 4,560 yards and 32 touchdowns.  He had a passer rating of 175.6, which led the NCAA that year, and led his team to a WAC Championship.  

    In 1990 he surpassed his sophomore total with 5,188 yards  and 41 touchdowns.  He broke numerous NCAA records that year, and led his team to an upset win over top-ranked Miami.  Detmer was awarded the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Award and the Maxwell Award.  He was also named a consensus All-American.

    Too bad for Ty that his remarkable season ended horribly.  His Cougars were handled by Hawaii in the last game of the season 59-28 and then were absolutely dominated by Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl.

    If it weren't for the end of his junior year and the beginning of his senior year, Detmer would be much higher on my list.  Not only did the Cougars lose horribly in the last two games of 1990, but they started off the 1991 season 0-3.  However, BYU and Detmer finished well that year with another WAC title and a 13-13 tie in the Holiday Bowl against an Iowa team that was expected to win easily against the Cougars.  

    Detmer finished his career with 15,301 passing yards, 121 touchdowns and a 162.7 passer rating.

No. 49 Bob Griese

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    In the 1960s Bob Griese was a baseball and basketball star at Purdue, as well as being the star quarterback. 

    He was a two-time All-American at quarterback, and finished second in the 1966 Heisman  Trophy voting behind Steve Spurrier. 

    He led his team to its first-ever Rose Bowl appearance and victory.  It was a gutsy 14-13 win over favored USC, and Griese was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1992.

    Bob Griese is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame. 

    No. 49 Bob Griese

No. 48 Vinny Testaverde

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    So why would the 1986 Heisman Trophy winner be so low on the list at only No. 48?  Miami fans know why. 

    Vinny Testaverde was an excellent college quarterback, but is perhaps best known for what he didn't do.  He didn't take his team to the national title even though they were heavily favored to do so. 

    Playing for it all against Penn State in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, Testaverde had one of his worst games.  He threw five interceptions, and his team lost the game 14-10. 

    Even with that painful loss, Miami fans still appreciate Vinny.  He was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. 

    No. 48 Vinny Testaverde

No. 47 Archie Manning

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    University of Mississippi quarterback Archie Manning makes the list at No. 47.  He would probably be much higher on the list had he had a better supporting cast at Ole Miss. 

    Manning was part of the first-ever prime time broadcast of a college football game in 1969.  He tore it up that day with over 400 yards passing and over 100 yards rushing. 

    He was named an All-SEC team member in 1969 and 1970.  He was also named Most Valuable Player of the SEC, and he finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1969.  He moved up a spot in 1970, finishing third in the Heisman race. 

    Manning was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989. 

    No. 47 Archie Manning

No. 46 Joe Hamilton

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    In 1996 Joe Hamilton was named the ACC Rookie of the Week four times.  In 1997 he was honored with two ACC Offensive Back of the Week awards.  He also received the MVP of the CarQuest Bowl versus West Virginia in that same year. 

    In 1998 he was named an All-ACC Quarterback and Co-MVP of the 1999 Gator Bowl against Notre Dame.  But, perhaps his greatest accomplishment, in Georgia Tech fans' minds at least, is that he beat the University of Georgia not once, but twice.

    Hamilton set several records while playing at Georgia Tech, including career totals for overall offense, touchdown passes and numerous others. 

    A finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 1999, he finished second to Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne.  However, he was awarded the Davey O'Brien Award in his senior year. 

    No.46 Joe Hamilton

No. 45 Tony Rice

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    Notre Dame quarterback Tony Rice makes the list at No. 45.  I know, I know, Irish fans, but try to be objective would you?

    Rice led the Irish to a national championship in 1988.  With Rice at the helm Notre Dame finished 12-0.

    An option quarterback under legendary coach Lou Holtz, Tony Rice proved himself as a dual threat quarterback.

    He would go on to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award in 1989; he was also named to the All-American team that same year.  He finished fourth in the Heisman ballot. 

    No.45 Tony Rice

No. 44 Timmy Chang

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    Known as a "system quarterback," Chang is the first of two Hawaii guys to make the Top 50 list.  If we just went on statistics alone Chang would be much higher on the list. 

    He was incredible at Hawaii.  From 2000 to 2004 Timmy Chang lit up scoreboards and opposing defenses.  Listen to this number: 17,072 yards.  That is his career passing total. 

    I will spare you all the records that Chang broke while at Hawaii, but he did earn MVP awards in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl, the 2004 Hawaii Bowl, and he was a Heisman candidate and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist in 2004. 

    No. 44 Timmy Chang

No. 43 Alex Smith

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    Alex Smith?  On this list?  Yes, after arguing with myself I finally agreed he probably deserved it.  After all, look at these statistics. 

    Year Att Comp Pct Yds TD Int
    2003 266 173 65% 2247 15 3
    2004 317 214 67.5% 2952 32 4
    Rushing Att  Yds  TD
    149 452 5
    135 631 10

    I had him anywhere from off the list to as high as 41, but in the end I settled here at No. 43.  His stats were impressive, but his leadership was even more impressive.  His teammates respected him very much, and he was an incredible student. 

    Smith had an amazing 21-1 record as the Utes' starting quarterback.  He was a Heisman finalist in 2004, finishing fourth in the voting.  He was the Mountain West player of the year that same season, and led his teams to victory in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and the 2003 Liberty Bowl.

    No. 43 Alex Smith

No. 42 "Big Ben" Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger

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    Quarterback at, not that Miami.  Miami University of Ohio. 

    He started as a redshirt freshman and never looked back.  He threw for 3,100 yards that year, and only increased his totals from there.  In 2002 he threw for 3,200 yards and in 2003 he had 4,400 yards passing. 

    Ben owns almost every record for quarterbacks at Miami of Ohio, and understandably the school retired his jersey in 2007.

    No. 42 Ben Roethlisberger   

No. 41 Major Harris

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    Arguably the best quarterback in West Virginia school history, Major Harris makes our list at No. 41. 

    In his sophomore season he led the Mountaineers to the school's first-ever undefeated regular season.  However, Harris was injured early on in the national championship game against Notre Dame.  Playing with a separated shoulder the first half, Harris relied on his running ability to keep the game close. 

    After getting his shoulder back in place at halftime, he led his team valiantly through the second half, but the Irish were able to keep the lead and went on  to beat West Virginia 34-21. 

    Major would go on to have a stellar career at West Virgina, finishing with 7,334 yards passing and 2,161 yards rushing. 

    Major Harris was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

    No. 41 Major Harris

No. 40 Samuel Adrian (AKA Slingin' Sammy) Baugh

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    A three-sport athlete at Texas Christian University, Baugh excelled most on the football field.  Not that he wasn't excellent in baseball and basketball, because he was, but he is most famous for his actions on the gridiron. 

    Baugh was an All-American quarterback in 1935 and 1936.  He led TCU to two bowl games and won them both.  One of those bowl games was a victory over Marquette in the very first Cotton Bowl Classic.  Baugh was the Cotton Bowl's very first MVP. 

    Of course, Baugh went on to have an excellent professional career, but most impressive is the fact that in his rookie year he led the Washington Redskins to an NFL Championship. 

    No. 40 Slingin' Sammy Baugh

No. 39 Jake Plummer

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    Jake Plummer aka "Jake the Snake" was known for slithering around competition.  As quarterback for the Arizona State Sun Devils, Plummer almost took his team to a national title in 1996. 

    After leading his team to a perfect regular season and Pac-10 championship, Plummer and his teammates lined up against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.  If Plummer had led his team to victory that day he probably would be a Top 20 guy, but he did not.  Arizona State lost 20-17, and there would be no national title.

    Football is a game of inches, or this case, points.  Three points separated Plummer from legendary status. 

    Top 50 isn't bad though.

    No.39 Jake Plummer

No. 38 Joe Montana

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    While Joe Montana is probably in the top 10  greatest quarterbacks of all time list of every NFL fan, he doesn't rate that high in the college list. 

    Montana was an excellent quarterback for Notre Dame, but it was nothing compared to his pro career.  However, we got a taste for what he would become while he played for the Fighting Irish. 

    Several times in his career at Notre Dame, Montana brought his team back with remarkable comebacks.  Coming off the bench against the University of North Carolina in 1975, Montana led the Irish to a 21-14 victory after trailing 14-6 with just over five minutes to play.  The next game against Air Force, Montana did the same thing, only this time his team was down 30-10 in the fourth quarter.  Joe entered the game, once again from the bench, and brought Notre Dame back to win 31-30. 

    Let's just say a legend was born.

    If it hadn't been for some nagging injuries one wonders what Montana's college career might look like.  As it stands now, he was still pretty amazing. 

    In 1977 Joe led his team to a national title.  The Irish finished 11-1, which included a 38-10 victory over the then-No.1 Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. 

    In 1979 Montana had the game of his college career.  Suffering from the flu the young quarterback brought his team from behind again, this time against the University of Houston.  The final score was 35-34 with Notre Dame scoring with just four seconds left on the clock.  This game went on to be called "the chicken soup game" because of Montana's illness. 

    No. 38 Joe Montana

No. 37 Joe Theismann

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    Known more for his broken leg as a Washington Redskin than his broken records at Notre Dame, Theismann makes our list at No. 37.

    In 1969 Theismann led the Irish to a No. 5 ranking and a Cotton Bowl appearance.  In 1970 he had even more success, leading his team to a 10-1 record and a No. 2 ranking.  They beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl that same season, and he was named an All-American and an Academic All-American. 

    While not winning the Heisman, he was a finalist for the prestigious award.  Joe broke many records at Notre Dame, including passing yards in a season with 2,429 and touchdowns in a season with 16.

    His overall record was 20-3-2, and he was added to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

    No. 37 Joe Theismann

No. 36 Eli Manning

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    The second of three people named Manning on this list of 50, Eli makes our list at No. 36. 

    Manning set or tied 45 records at Ole Miss.  His career passing numbers are 10,119 yards, 81 touchdowns, and a career passer rating of 137.7. 

    He led his team to a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State in 2003. 

    In his senior year Eli won the Maxwell Award as the nation's top all-around player and the Golden Arm Award as the nation's top quarterback.  He was third in the Heisman voting that same year.

    No. 36 Eli Manning

No. 35 Jim McMahon

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    A great college quarterback, but if I am being honest he would probably be higher on my list if he didn't bug me so much. 

    At BYU McMahon's rebellious ways caused headaches for coaches and other players. 

    However, the biggest headaches he caused were for opposing defenses. 

    Jim McMahon did it his way, and his way was pretty amazing.  He finished his career with over 9,500 yards passing and 84 touchdowns.  He broke over 70 NCAA records and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

    The ironic thing is that he has never been inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame because he failed to finish his degree.  He is only 10 credits short.  Like I said, the guy does it his way.

    No. 35 Jim McMahon

No. 34 Graham Harrell

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    Wow is all I have to say about this guy.  As a sophomore at Texas Tech, Harrell threw for 4,555 yards, the third-most in FBS history.  In 2007 as a junior Harrell kept lighting it up, so much so that he was awarded the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the nation's top passer. 

    He broke the all-time passing yards record at Texas Tech and was awarded several awards during the season.  He also broke two fingers on his non-throwing hand in his final game against Baylor, but simply taped them up and continued to play.  Texas Tech won the game.

    A day after that game Harrell had surgery, and 17 pins were placed in his hand.  However, to Harrell it was worth it because the victory gave the Red Raiders a share of the Big 12 South title.

    In his senior season Harrell passed for 5,111 yards, becoming the first college player to throw 5,000-plus yards in multiple seasons.  Add to that a record 134 passing touchdowns.

    He was selected as the Sporting News 2008 National Player of the Year, won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award in 2008, and finished fourth in the Heisman voting that same year.   

    No. 34 Graham Harrell

No. 33 Davey O'Brien

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    When you have a prestigious award named after you, you probably deserve to be on a list.  Davey O'Brien is no exception. 

    Starting quarterback for TCU for the 1937 and 1938 seasons,  Davey O'Brien proved himself a winner on the field.  He broke Southwestern Conference records on the way to leading the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season in 1938, outscoring their opponents 269-60.

    That same season TCU beat Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl and was awarded the National Championship. 

    O'Brien was the first player to win the Heisman, Maxwell, and Walter Camp awards the same year. 

    No. 33 Davey O'Brien

No. 32 Chase Daniel

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    Chase Daniel is one of those special players who just got better every year.  As quarterback for Missouri, Daniel got better, and better, and better. 

    Look at his career stats and you'll see what I mean:

    Year     Att       Comp   Comp%    TD     Int     Rating  
    2005 66 38 57.6 1 2 100.68   
    2006 452 287 63.5 33 10 145.06
    2007 563 384 68.2 33 11 147.88
    2008 528 385 72.9 39 18 159.44

    Chase was a Heisman finalist in 2007, finishing fourth; a semi-finalist for the Maxwell Award, a finalist for the Manning Award, the Walter Camp Award, and the Davey O'Brien Award. 

    He broke several Missouri passing records, including finishing with 13,256 career passing yards.

    No. 32 Chase Daniel

No. 31 Drew Brees

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    One of my personal favorites on the list, Drew Brees No. 31.

    He could be higher on the list, but at this point it gets hard to pick one great quarterback over another.  I think Brees fits in nicely at No. 31.

    While at Purdue he broke the Big Ten records of total offensive yards, completions, touchdown passes, and passing yards.  He led Purdue to their first Rose Bowl since 1967. 

    He was a finalist in the Heisman voting in 1999, and won the Maxwell award in 2000.  He was also named the Academic All-American Player of the Year as a senior. 

    Good man, great quarterback.

    No. 31 Drew Brees

No. 30 Kordell Stewart

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    Kordell Stewart meant more to his college coach and teammates than many quarterbacks ever do.  Bill McCartney, coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, knew how to get the most out of his young quarterback.  When others overlooked Stewart, McCartney knew he was something special. 

    Stewart's career at Colorado has become legendary.  He is the best quarterback to ever play for the school, and still holds many records. 

    Kordell led the Buffaloes to an 11-1 record in 1994 and a Top Three finish.  During his career he also led his team to the Aloha Bowl in 1993 and the Fiesta Bowl in 1995.

    He is probably most famous for his game-winning, last-second, hail Mary pass to Michael Westbrook in 1994 against Michigan.

    No. 30 Kordell Stewart

No. 29 Eric Zeier

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    An All-Academic SEC student and excellent Georgia quarterback, Eric Zeier makes the list at No. 29.  Too high for some, not high enough for others, Zeier is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for the University of Georgia. 

    While at Georgia in the early 1990s, Zeier broke over 60 school records and nearly 20 SEC records.  He threw for more than 11,000 yards in his career, and was a team captain for his Bulldogs.

    No. 29 Eric Zeier

No. 28 Colt Brennan

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    While his college career had a rather inauspicious beginning, Brennan came to make the most of it. 

    Originally Brennan walked on at Colorado in 2003 and made the team.  However, in 2004 Brennan got in some trouble visiting a girl's dorm room uninvited.  He was convicted of burglary and trespassing.  He served a week in jail, and some probation.

    Brennan Transferred to Saddleback College in California later that same year (2004).  He played football and led his team to a conference championship.  He was an honorable mention All-American.

    He then transferred to the University of Hawaii in 2005 where he earned the starting quarterback job.  All he did that year was lead the country in total offense with 4,455 yards.

    In 2006 he continued his success.  He led the nation in passing efficiency at 182.8 and completed over 72 percent of his passes.  Brennan finished sixth in Heisman voting that year.

    2007 was his best season.  He took his team to an undefeated regular season, a WAC championship, and a Sugar Bowl appearance.  However, that Sugar Bowl against Georgia didn't turn out the way Brennan desired.  He spent most of the time running for his life or picking himself off the carpet.  Hawaii lost that game 41-10. 

    Colt Brennan still holds many records, and anyone who saw him play college football knows he belongs on this list.

    No. 28 Colt Brennan

No. 27 Peyton Manning

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    Peyton Manning didn't go to his dad's school (Ole Miss).  Instead, he chose Tennessee, and I am sure those folks thank him for making that decision. 

    His college career was outstanding to say the least.  He won 39 of 45 games as a starter, and broke the SEC record for career victories by a starting quarterback. 

    During his career for the Volunteers, Manning led his teams to an SEC championship and a Orange Bowl appearance.  He was named a first-team All-American, and won the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Award and the ESPY for Best College Player.   

    Tennessee retired the Manning jersey in 2005, and they named a street leading to the stadium after him. 

    No. 27 Peyton Manning

No. 26 Philip Rivers

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    Philip Rivers' consistency is what made him so good, and it's the main reason he made this list. Rivers led North Carolina State to four bowl games in four years, and started 51 games straight.  That is some kind of accomplishment considering he played quarterback.

    He broke numerous ACC records and was named the ACC Athlete of the Year in 2004.  He won the MVP in three of the four bowl games he played in, and even took home the MVP Award for the 2004 Senior Bowl. 

    He finished his career with 13,484 yards, and threw 95 touchdown passes.

    No. 26 Philip Rivers

No. 25 Andrew Luck

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    Luck is one of only two active quarterbacks on this list.  I think as soon as his Stanford career ends he moves up into the top 10.  This guy is incredible. 

    The 2010 Heisman runner up, 2011 Orange Bowl MVP,  2010 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, Maxwell Award finalist, Walter Camp Award finalist, Davey O'Brien Award finalist, and Manning Award finalist.  Not to mention, this year he is the favorite to win the Heisman and many of the other awards I have listed.  

    His stats speak for themselves:

    Year     Att      Comp    Yds    Comp %    TD     Int   
    2009 288 162 2,575   56.3 13 4
    2010 372 263 3,338 70.7 32 8
    2011 (so far)    145 106 1,383 73.1 14  

    No. 25 Andrew Luck

No. 24 Steve Spurrier

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    Wanna know why Spurrier is such a good coach?  Because he was such a great player. 

    He played quarterback from 1964 to 1966 for the Florida Gators.  He played 31 games for the Gators, and made every one of them count.

    As a senior Spurrier won the Heisman trophy, and was named a first-team All-American as a junior and senior.  He finished with 4,848 passing yards, 442 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. 

    He also was awarded the Fergie Ferguson Award, which recognizes the senior football player who displays outstanding character and leadership.

    No. 24 Steve Spurrier

No. 23 Kellen Moore

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    The only other active player on the list besides No .25 Andrew Luck is...Kellen Moore.  He has led the Boise State Broncos since the 2008 season. 

    As a redshirt freshman Moore led his team to an undefeated regular season.  He threw 25 touchdowns that same year, but threw only 10 interceptions.  He finished that season with 3,486 yards passing. 

    In his sophomore year Moore bested himself by throwing for 39 touchdowns with only three interceptions.  He led the Broncos to a perfect 14-0 record and a victory over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.  He was named a first-team All-American, and was a finalist for the Manning Award.

    His junior year brought much the same result, although Moore and his Broncos suffered one painful loss against Nevada to end their perfect season. 

    Here is a list of Moore's stats, and the reason I picked him over Andrew Luck in the rankings:

    Year     Att     Comp     Yards    TD     Int     Rating    
    2008 405 281 3,486 25 10 157.1
    2009 431 277 3,536 39 3 182.6
    2010 383 273 3,845 35 6 171.6
    2011 (so far) 169 125 1,391 17 4 167.3

    No. 23 Kellen Moore

No .22 Troy Aikman

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    Troy Aikman makes the list for a couple of reasons.  First, he knows how to overcome adversity, and second, he is a dang good quarterback. 

    Most people forget that Aikman started his college career at Oklahoma, but finished it at UCLA.  In 1985, the first year for Aikman at Oklahoma, he broke his ankle.  He was replaced by Jamelle Holieway, and never got the starting spot back.  So, he did what he needed to do and transferred to UCLA.

    At UCLA he had to sit out one year because of NCAA rules, but then earned the starting spot his junior year.  In that year Aikman led the Bruins to a 10-3 overall record, and they beat Florida in the Aloha Bowl 20-16. 

    In his senior year, Aikman played well enough to become a consensus All-American and placed third in the Heisman voting.  He led his team to a 10-2 record and a 17-3 win over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. 

    He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

    No. 22 Troy Aikman

No. 21 Terry Baker

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    Terry Baker is a name some college fans may not be familiar with.  However, this man did some incredible things as quarterback of the Oregon State football team from 1960 to 1962. 

    Not only is he the only person ever to win a Heisman Trophy and play in the NCAA Final Four in basketball the same year, but he also played baseball for the Beavers. 

    1962 was his Heisman-winning year, but he also won the Maxwell Award, the Voit Memorial Trophy, first team All-American honors, and was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

    No. 21 Terry Baker

No. 20 John Elway

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    Elway was the quarterback at Stanford from 1979 to 1982.  Elway was an amazing athlete competing not only in football but in baseball as well.

    His career at Stanford on the football side was quite impressive. 

    He completed 774 passes for 9,349 yards, 77 touchdowns, and led the nation in touchdowns his senior year. 

    When Elway graduated he left with almost every Stanford and Pac-10 passing record.  He won the Pac-10 player of the year in 1980 and 1982.  He was a consensus All-American and finished second in 1982 in the Heisman vote. 

    John Elway was named one of the top 25 college football players of all time by ESPN.

    No. 20 John Elway

No. 19 Sam Bradford

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    Samuel Jacob "Sam" Bradford, a class act...and then some.

    Some people might question me on this but I say Sam Bradford deserves to be this high on the list.  He showed his dedication as a player, teammate and competitor when he came back for the 2009 season, when he could have gone into the NFL.  Of course, we know what happened, he got hurt.

    The first game of his junior year against BYU, Bradford came down hard on his shoulder.  He suffered a third-degree AC joint sprain and was going to have to sit out for three weeks. Then Bradford was injured again, against Texas in the Red River Rivalry.  This time there would be no return; he had to have season-ending surgery.

    Had Bradford been able to play, who knows how the season would have ended.

    In his sophomore season Bradford beat out Tim Tebow for the Heisman Trophy by just 9 votes.  However, the heart he showed the next year was probably his greatest accomplishment.

    No. 19 Sam Bradford

No. 18 Danny Wuerffel

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    Danny Wuerffel played quarterback for the Florida Gators from 1993 to 1996. 

    All he did while he was there was win a national title, a Heisman Trophy, dozens of league and national awards, MVP trophies—oh yeah, and he was an Academic All-American.

    How this guy isn't in my top 10 I will never know. 

    In any case, look at these stats:

    Year Comp Att Comp% Passing TD INT
    1993 159 273 58.2 2230 22 10
    1994 132 212 62.3 1754 18 9
    1995 210 325 64.6 3266 35 10
    1996 207 360 57.5 3625 39  

    No. 18 Danny Wuerffel

No. 17 Carson Palmer

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    Carson Palmer makes the list because of one magical year.  He didn't do a whole lot until his senior year at USC.  Don't get me wrong, he played better than average, but compared to his senior year, it was nothing. 

    In 1999 he passed for just 490 yards and three touchdowns in limited action.  In 2000 he had 2,914 yards passing and 16 touchdowns  In 2001 he threw for 2,717 yards and 13 touchdowns.  But his senior year (2002), Palmer threw for 3,942 yards and had 33 passing touchdowns, 4 rushing touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

    In that same 2002 season Palmer led USC to an Orange Bowl victory over the University of Iowa, and was awarded the game's MVP. 

    That was the same year that he also won a little award called the Heisman.

     No. 17 Carson Palmer

No. 16 Steve Young

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    Jon Steven "Steve" Young was a quarterback for BYU.  He was almost not the quarterback there, though.  After struggling with the passing game, he was almost switched to defense by the Cougars' coaches.  They thought his amazing athletic ability could suit him well as a defensive back.

    However, Young worked hard to prove he could play the quarterback position.  The reason I picked Steve Young was because of this very reason.  He is a great example of determination and drive.  He chose to not give up, and he didn't.  He chose to work hard, and he did.  He set his sights on being the quarterback for BYU, and he earned it. 

    In his senior year (1983) he passed for 3,902 yards and 33 touchdowns,  but the most remarkable thing he did was complete 71.3 percent of his passes—the same guy who had struggled with his throwing. 

    The thing he didn't struggle with was running.  In that same season he rushed for 544 yards, and his team set a single-season record for offense at 584.2 yards per game. 

    With an 11-1 record in 1983, Young was named first-team All-American, won the Davey O'Brien Award and finished second in the Heisman voting. 

    No. 16 Steve Young

No. 15 Steve McNair

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    Steve McNair was a special man, and a special player.  He passed away on July 4, 2009 at the age of 36, God rest his soul. 

    He wanted so much to play college quarterback that he turned down a scholarship from Florida because they offered it to him as a defensive back. 

    Steve instead chose Alcorn State, a Division I-AA (now FCS) school.  But that is why I picked this guy.  He had a dream and he went after it.  Even when others told him he couldn't. 

    He threw for over 3,500 yards in 1992, along with 29 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns.  In 1993, he continued his success, throwing for over 3,000 yards once again.  Add to that the 30 touchdowns and you have a pretty good year. 

    In his senior year, however, he changed the way the game was played. McNair had nearly 6,000 yards, 53 touchdowns, and numerous records. He finished third in the Heisman race. 

    He finished his career with 16,283 yards, which is a record that still stands today. 

    No. 15 Steve McNair

No. 14 Eric Crouch

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    Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch makes the list at No. 14. 

    Why?  Well, the 2001 Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Award, and Walter Camp Award are pretty good reasons.

    He was the definition of a dual threat quarterback.  In his award-winning season he passed for 1,510 yards and rushed for 1,115 yards.

    Crouch played with heart, passion, and dignity.  He was one of only three quarterbacks in history to rush for more than 3,000 yards and pass for more than 4,000 yards in his career.

    No. 14 Eric Crouch

No. 13 Matt Leinart

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    Matt Leinart was an incredible quarterback for USC from 2003 to 2005.

    In 2003 he carried his team with 3,556 yards passing and 38 touchdowns.  He followed that up in 2004 with 3,322 yards and 33 touchdowns.  2005 brought much the same with 3,815 yards passing and 28 touchdowns.  

    Leinart went on to appear in two national title games, winning the first against Oklahoma, but losing the second to Vince Young and Texas in one of the greatest college games of all time. 

    In his career Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy, the Rose Bowl MVP, the Walter Camp Award, the Unitas Award, the All-American Player of the Year, National Championship MVP, Sporting News Sportsman of the Year, Orange Bowl MVP, Victor Award, Manning Award, Touchdown Club QB of the Year, Football Coaches All-American first team, Player of the Year, and Player of the Year. 

    Not bad if I do say so myself.

    No. 13 Matt Leinart

No. 12 Gino Torretta

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    Louis "Gino" Torretta, quarterback for the University of Miami from 1989 to 1992. 

    In that time, he won the Heisman Trophy, the National Championship, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, and numerous other accolades.

    He was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.  He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

    No. 12 Gino Torretta

No. 11 Ken Dorsey

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    Another Miami quarterback on the list:  Ken Dorsey, who led the University of Miami to a 2001 national championship. 

    During his career at Miami Dorsey amassed a 38-2 record as a starter.  He threw for over 9,400 yards, 86 touchdowns and had a .974 winning percentage. 

    He won the MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl, Offensive Player of the Year twice (2001 and 2002) and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in both of those years. 

    In 2002 he led the University of Miami to an undefeated regular season, but lost the national title game to Ohio State. 

    No. 11 Ken Dorsey

No. 10 Joe Namath

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    Joe Namath played ball for Alabama from 1962 to 1964.  In that time he had a 29-4 record as the starting quarterback. 

    Perhaps the greatest compliment a football player could receive was given to Joe Namath.  Paul "Bear" Bryant said that Namath was the greatest athlete he ever coached.

    Namath's stats weren't all that impressive, but it was the way he played the game that lands him on my list.  Fearless, confident, and never backing down.  Joe Namath quarterbacked the Alabama Crimson Tide during the civil rights upheaval of the 1960s.  

    Joe Namath stood up for African Americans against some of his own white teammates.  He didn't back down, he stood for what was right, and for that and much more he makes my list. 

    No. 10 Joe Namath

No. 9 Chris Weinke

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    Chris Weinke played quarterback for Florida State starting in 1997.  He was 25 years old.  This is one of the reasons he makes my list.

    The other reason is that he tore it up.  In 1998 Weinke led his team to a 9-1 record and a No. 2 ranking.  Unfortunately, his season ended too soon when he endured a neck injury. 

    In 1999 he led the No. 1-ranked Seminoles to an undefeated season and a national championship.  He defeated a team called Virginia Tech—who had a quarterback named Michael Vick. 

    In 2000 Weinke led the nation with 4,167 passing yards and was awarded the Heisman Trophy.  He also went on to win the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

    While he did make it back to the national title game, the Seminoles ended up losing to Oklahoma. 

    Weinke is the oldest player ever to win a Heisman, and for that alone he makes my list.  But the incredible stats don't hurt either.

    No. 9 Chris Weinke

No. 8 Michael Vick

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    This guy played like superman.  Now he only played two seasons, but if you saw him play in college you know why he is on my list. 

    Vick led the Hokies to an 11-0 season and a national title game in 1999.  They lost the game, but Vick almost made one of the most amazing comebacks in college history.  The bid fell short, but people knew Vick was for real.

    In 2000 Vick had another incredible year, although injuries were an issue. 

    He left after his sophomore year for the NFL, but his legacy remains.

    The reason I picked Vick for this list, and at No. 8, is because he changed the game.  Vick played like superman, and it caused others to change what they were doing.  If you have noticed, college football has changed since VIck's day, and I think it is directly related to how he played.  Did I mention he played like superman?

    No. 8 Michael Vick

No. 7 Tommie Frazier

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    Tommie Frazier played for the University of Nebraska from 1992 to 1995. 

    He was an incredible quarterback.  He earned the 1994 and 1995 Orange Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards, the 1995 Johnny Unitas Award, and the 1996 Fiesta Bowl MVP.

    Frazier led the Cornhuskers to back-to-back national championships in 1994 and 1995.  These teams are still legendary. 

    Frazier also led his team to four Big Eight Conference Championships, and finished with a 33-3 record overall as a starter.

     No. 7 Tommie Frazier

No. 6 Cam Newton

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    Cam Newton is fresh enough in our memories that we all know what he has done and accomplished. 

    However, it's never bad to review. 

    He went to Florida, he left Florida.  He played at Binn College in Texas, leading his team to a NJCAA National Championship. 

    He then transferred to Auburn where he played quarterback incredibly. 

    His whole college career is based on comebacks.  He did in life, and he did it on the field.  With all the controversy that surrounded him, he quietly took his team to the BCS National Championship.  Okay, not so quietly. 

    In 2010 he won the Heisman in a landslide, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Manning Award, the Davey O'Brien Award, the AP Player of the Year Award, and numerous others. 

    No. 6 Cam Newton

No.5 Charlie Ward

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    Charlie Ward won the 1993 Heisman as the Florida State quarterback.  He also won the Maxwell, O'Brien, and so many other awards you would think is middle initial was "a".  Think about it. 

    Charlie Ward was also an excellent baseball player.  He didn't play in college, but he was still drafted by the Yankees in 1994. 

    Ward was an all around good guy.  Good student, good player, and good citizen. 

    Ward led the Seminoles to a national championship in 1993 in the Orange Bowl against Nebraska.  The Noles won that game 18-16. 

    Charlie Ward No.5

No. 4 Jim Plunkett

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    Jim Plunkett was quarterback for Stanford University in the late 1960s.  Plunkett overcame adversity in his first season at Stanford.  He had to have a thyroid operation which caused him to lose his spot as a quarterback on the team.  

    His coach moved him to defense, but Plunkett wouldn't let that stand.  He worked hard to prove that he could play quarterback, and eventually earned the starting spot.  

    Why is he on my list so high?  Not only did he overcome adversity, but he also passed up the NFL Draft to stay in school to be an example for the kids he tutored.  

    He carried Stanford on his shoulders to the 1970 Rose Bowl and beat the heavily favored Ohio State Buckeyes 27-17.

    Plunkett won numerous awards including the Heisman Trophy.

    No. 4 Jim Plunkett

No. 3 Doug Flutie

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    Doug Flutie is  probably most famous for the "miracle in Miami."  However, he did quite a bit more at Boston College.

    He was the 1984 Walter Camp Award winner.  He also won the Davey O'Brien Award, the Maxwell Award, the UPI Player of the Year Award and was the Liberty Bowl MVP in 1993. 

    Of course, Flutie was also a Heisman Trophy winner but most people think the reason was because of that famous "hail Mary" in Miami.  The truth is the votes were already in when Flutie threw that amazing pass. 

    A small quarterback, he never played that way.  Flutie was an incredible college quarterback, and a fierce competitor. 

    He didn't know how to give up. 

    No. 3 Doug Flutie

No. 2 Vince Young

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    So I will be honest—I flip flopped on these next two guys...more than once.  I couldn't decide who was a better "college" quarterback.  Then I decided to just flip a coin.  Just kidding.  I think Vince Young is just a little bit behind the No. 1 quarterback on this list. 

    However, I wouldn't want to tell him that. 

    Vince Young was amazing.  We all remember Young's Texas Longhorns and their epic game for the title against USC. 

    A two-time Rose Bowl MVP trophy, the Manning Award, the O'Brien Award, and many other awards were placed at the altar of Vince Young.  He finished second in the Heisman to Reggie Bush, but some think it should have been his. 

    His stats were impressive, but his ability to run, his leadership by example and his overwhelming desire to win is what made Vince Young so special. 

    No. 2 Vince Young

No. 1 Tim Tebow

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    Tim Tebow is no. 1 on my list because he was a great student, a great competitor, a great quarterback and a great human being. 

    Before you roll your eyes, know that he is what we all want our sons to be.  Deep down, he is what we all wish we could be.  Consistent, hard working, uplifting, smart and athletic. 

    In 2006 he played sparingly.  In 2007, he had a 172.5 passer rating, 3,286 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and only six interceptions.  He also rushed for 895 yards and 23 more touchdowns. 

    In 2008 it was the same passer rating, 2,747 yards passing, 30 touchdowns by air, and another 12 by land.  Add to that 673 rushing yards. 

    In 2009 his passer rating dipped to 155.6, but he still threw for 2,895 yards and 21 touchdowns.  He rushed for 910 yards and 14 TDs. 

    A remarkable dual threat quarterback and competitor. 

    He of course was a Heisman finalist three times and won the award once in 2007.  To list every other award he received would take three more slides, but in my estimation he is the most decorated college quarterback of all time. 

    Did I mention he also led his Florida Gators to a national title in 2008?  He is a proven winner, both on and off the field.

    In my opinion there's no one better as a college quarterback than Tim Tebow. 

    Tim Tebow, the No.1 Greatest College Quarterback of All Time.