Who are the top quarterbacks in SEC history?

We’ve spent the last several weeks flipping through team-specific media guides, glancing over highlight film and nearly coming to blows at our home office determining this 25-member comprehensive list of the league’s best defensive linemen.

Editor’s note: The SDS staff weighed multiple factors during our SEC’s all-time quarterback rankings process including career statistics, individual awards, importance to their respective team and the era in which they played.

10.) AJ MCCARRON, ALABAMA (2010-13)

Far greater than McCarron’s numbers during a noteworthy career in Tuscaloosa was his ability to lead, directing Alabama to two national championships (he won three overall, redshirt) as the starter for Nick Saban’s dynasty in the SEC West.

McCarron started 40 consecutive games, won the SEC twice and incredibly, only threw 15 interceptions in 1,026 career attempts, ranking him among the most efficient quarterbacks in college football history. As a junior in 2012, McCarron posted a sparking 10:1 touchdown to interception ratio for the repeat national champs and followed that up with a Heisman runner-up honor as a fifth-year senior, also taking home the Unitas Golden Arm award and Maxwell.

Before being drafted in the fifth round last spring, McCarron left Alabama as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He posted four touchdown passes in a single game a school-record seven times.

Career numbers:

686-1,026, 9,019 yards, 77 TD, 15 INT

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (2012-13); Maxwell Award (2013); Unitas Golden Arm (2013)

NFL Draft:

No. 164 (fifth round) in 2014


One of college football’s best players during his time in the SEC on a squad void of surrounding talent, Manning made the most of his abilities as one of the first dual-threat quarterbacks.

As a junior in 1969, Manning’s coming out party came against Alabama in the first nationally-televised college football game in prime-time in network history. He captivated the audience with 540 total yards of offense (436 pass, 104 rush) and three touchdowns during a 33-32 loss. That passing total remains a single-game program record.

A two-time All-SEC player, Manning was named the league’s player of the year that season and was twice a Heisman finalist. Later, he was named SEC Quarterback of the Quarter Century (1950–75) by several media outlets. He left Oxford as the program’s leader in several categories before one of his two Super Bowl-winning sons, Eli, shattered nearly every school passing record in the early 2000s.

Career numbers:

402-761, 4,753 yards, 31 TD, 40 INT; 823 yards rushing, 25 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (1969-70); SEC Player of the Year (1969); Walter Camp Memorial Trophy (1969); Heisman finalist (1969-70); College Football Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:

No. 2 overall in 1971

8.) PAT SULLIVAN, AUBURN (1969-71)

A three-year starter on the Plains for legendary coach Shug Jordan, Sullivan won 26 games and broke multiple NCAA and school records for total offense during his tenure as a run-pass threat under center.

His 71 career touchdowns tied an NCAA record and paved the way for mobile quarterbacks as the new norm in college football. Sullivan’s senior season was grand after he tossed 20 touchdown passes and led Auburn to a 9-2 record, winning the Heisman Trophy after finishing sixth the previous year.

Sullivan’s NFL career was brief, but over the last 28 years, he has impacted lives at the college level as a coach coach at several different programs.

Career numbers:

472-863, 6,534 yards, 53 TD, 41 INT; 541 yards rushing, 18 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-American (1971); Heisman Trophy (1971); College Football Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:

No. 40 overall (second round) in 1972

7.) JOE NAMATH, ALABAMA (1962-64)

This Pro Football Hall of Famer was one of Bear Bryant’s all-time best at Alabama, winning 29 games over a three-year span as the Crimson Tide’s starter including the 1964 national championship despite losing to Texas in the Orange Bowl.

As a sophomore, Namath led the SEC in passing yards and touchdowns during the best statistical season of his career — 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. A game manager his final two seasons, Namath’s job was to ensure Alabama’s offense did just enough for the elite unit on the other side of the football.

Bryant called Namath ‘the best player I’ve ever coached’ after his quarterback blossomed into one of the NFL’s most decorated passers in league history. Infamous for his pre-game guarantee in Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts, Namath would go on to have his No. 12 retired by the New York Jets and become the first true media icon at his position.

Career numbers:

203-374, 2,713 yards, 24 TD, 20 INT; 563 yards rushing, 15 TD

Individual superlatives:

Orange Bowl MVP (1964 season)

NFL Draft:

No. 12 overall in 1965


Florida’s first Heisman winner in 1966, Spurrier went on to become the all-time winningest coach at his alma-mater and later South Carolina, joining Bear Bryant as the only coach in the history of the SEC to do so at two different programs.

Known for his ability to elude oncoming rushers by dancing in and around the pocket to make plays, Spurrier was a three-year starter in Gainesville and routinely helped the Gators come from behind to win games. At the time of his departure as a two-time All-American in 1966, the future Head Ball Coach was school and league record holder in various passing categories.

Spurrier played in 106 NFL games over a 10-year span before retiring to get into coaching. He’s won six SEC Championships, one ACC Championship and a national championship during his illustrious career.

Career numbers:

392-692, 4,848 yards, 36 TD, 31 INT; 442 yards rushing, 3 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-American (1965-66), All-SEC (1965-66); SEC Player of the Year (1966); Heisman Trophy (1966); Walter Camp Memorial Trophy (1966); University of Florida Hall of Fame; College Football Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:

No. 3 overall in 1967