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Ranking the SEC’s top 10 quarterbacks of the BCS era

Related BCS Ranking:

What have I gotten myself into? Ranking quarterbacks in the BCS era is no easy task; rather, it’s a monumental one with no solid foundational outcome but plenty of disagreement. But I’m willing to take the heat.

As a reminder: the BCS started in 1998 and will be ending after the 2013 season.

The rankings have to have some type of metrics, but I’m not biased to four-year career players over one-year superstars. Let’s not judge them because they’re one-season wonders.

Let’s get on with it…

Dual-threat beasts

1. Cam Newton, Auburn (2010)
Pass stats: 2,854 yds, 30 TD, 7 INT, 66.1%
Rush stats: 1,473 yds, 20 TDs
Skinny: Cam Newton is hands down the most put together and physically gifted specimen of any quarterback of the BCS era. At 6-5, 245-pounds, there’s not much to dislike. His 2010 season was one of football’s most explosive and best seasons ever. I remember when Tim Tebow took the conference by storm, thinking it may never be accomplished again. But it did, and to a guy who once shared the sidelines with Tebow. Newton led the Tigers to an undefeated season, winning the SEC, BCS and the Heisman. Newton had far less talent around him than Tebow.

Related: Ranking the SEC’s 10 best running backs of BCS era

2. Tim Tebow, Florida (2006-09)
Pass stats: 9,285 pass yards, 88 TD, 16 INT, 66.4%
Rush stats: 2,947 rush yards, 57 TDs
Skinny: One word that comes to mind is intangibles. Whether or not you blame Urban Meyer for Florida’s letdown, he let Tebow run the team. That’s Meyer’s problem, but Tebow could handle it. In 2007, he did things we hadn’t seen before in a conference where those things are not supposed to happen, when he won the Heisman. Later, he led Florida to a national championship in 2008 and was one loss away from another appearance in 2009. Tebow was a Heisman finalist three years in a row, and he scored a total of 145 (145!) career touchdowns.

Pro-style champion

3. AJ McCarron, Alabama (2011-current)
Pass stats: 5,956 yards, 49 TDs, 8 INTs, 66.7%
Rush stats: 3 TDs
Skinny: McCarron’s been called underrated, and he’s been called overrated. He’s been called a game manager and the anti-Manziel. I’ll call him a winner and a champion, because that’s all he’s ever done. His touchdown to INT ratio is incredible, and he could become the first starting quarterback in the history of college football to win three national championships. We’ll never know truly how good McCarron really is because he has first-round picks all around him, but if he wins another one in 2013, he’ll move up on this list. On the big stage, McCarron plays his best games. That’s what you want out of a quarterback.

Related: AJ McCarron’s top 10 plays

Electrifying star

4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (2012-current)
Pass stats: 3,706 yds, 26 TD, 9 INT, 68.0%
Rush stats: 1,410 yds, 21 TD
Skinny: I’m nowhere near afraid to put Johnny Manziel in my top five. The guy is every bit of electric, and with over 5,100 total yards of offense, he turned college football on its head. Winning a Heisman is the best start any freshman could ever have, and assuming he plays long enough, Manziel could go down as college football’s best quarterback ever. Did I just go there?

Related: See where Manziel ranks in the top 25 players in the SEC

The pro-style 6

5. Chris Leak, Florida (2003-06)
Pass stats: 11,213 yds, 88 TD, 42 INT, 61.4%
Rush stats: 137 yds, 13 TD
Skinny: Records are made to be broken, and Leak’s record of 895 career completions will be broken by Aaron Murray in 2013. Leak’s second all-time in career passing yardage to Georgia’s David Greene, with 11,213 yards. He’s an SEC and BCS Champion, and he’s a top five SEC quarterback during the BCS era.

6. Eli Manning, Ole Miss (2000-03)
Pass stats: 10,119 yds, 81 TD, 35 INT, 60.8%
Rush stats: 5 TDs
Skinny: As the only Manning to play during the BCS era, Eli had an outstanding career at Ole Miss. The Rebels were good because Manning took them there. You’ll find Eli’s name in the SEC record book as top 10 in passing yards, completions and attempts, as well as top five in touchdown passes. But he rewrote the Rebels’ record book. Clearly, he’s taken his game to the next level in the NFL, but let’s not forget what he did at Ole Miss.

7. David Greene, Georgia (2001-04)
Pass stats: 11,528 yds, 72 TD, 32 INT, 59.0%
Rush stats: 5 TDs
Skinny: Few remember what David Greene accomplished at Georgia. Greene finished his career as the winningest quarterback in NCAA history with 42 wins, surpassing Peyton Manning. He won an SEC Championship in 2002, and he was an SEC first- and second-team performer in 2002-04. Greene still holds the SEC record for career passing yards with 11,528.

8. Aaron Murray, Georgia (2010-current)
Pass stats: 10,091 yds, 95 TD, 32 INT, 61.5%
Rush stats: 202 yds, 9 TD
Skinny: Murray will own virtually every passing record in 2013 – completions, career touchdown passes and total yards gained, but he’s still in search of an elusive championship – the only reason he returned in 2013. If he wins a championship, the resume will be complete.

9. Rex Grossman, Florida (2000-02)
Pass stats: 9,164 yds, 77 TD, 36 INT, 61%
Rush stats: 6 TD
Skinny: Grossman became the first sophomore QB in Florida history to garner first-team All-American honors in 2001. Grossman almost became the first sophomore to win the Heisman that year, but he finished as the runner up. He is fifth all time in Gator history with 9,164 yards and stands fourth with 77 touchdowns. Grossman exited Florida with a 146.77 passer rating, becoming the third most efficient passer in SEC history.

10. Matthew Stafford, Georgia (2006-08)
Pass stats: 7,731 yds, 51 TD, 33 INT, 57.1%
Rush stats: 6 TD
Skinny: Stafford still stands to this day – on paper – as one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever come through the SEC. He remains third in school history with the most completions with 987 and third in career passing yards with 7,731. His 51 touchdowns also stand third in school history.

Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


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