Ranking the SEC's top 10 quarterbacks in the BCS era
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The BCS era is officially behind us and it’s safe to say the SEC featured some of college football’s most exciting talent during those 16 years.
Our first position group is the quarterbacks. These SEC signal callers were dominant during their collegiate careers, but with so many great players, ranking them is no easy task.
But no challenge is too tough for Saturday Down South…
1. 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
The lowdown: It’s doubtful you’ll find any college quarterback as polarizing as Tim Tebow was during his four years at the University of Florida. During his freshman season, he was a backup to Chris Leak when the Gators made their 2006 national championship run, but still made an impact with his bruising running style and even a jump pass. What’s most impressive about Tebow is just how dominant he was over the course of three seasons. After becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, he was a Heisman finalist in both his junior and senior seasons. He became the first quarterback to ever have 20 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns in the same season. At the end of his career, Tebow owned five NCAA records, 14 SEC records and 28 school records, including the most rushing touchdowns in the SEC and the most career offensive yards in Florida history.
And we haven’t even mentioned his intangibles yet. Considered one of the best leaders in all of sports, Tebow’s charisma and football accomplishments made him a natural leader on the field. For three years at Florida, the success of the program rested squarely on his shoulders and he didn’t disappoint. His leadership ability combined with an outstanding collegiate career puts him as the SEC’s top quarterback in the BCS era.
2. Cam Newton, Auburn (2010)
Pass stats: 2,854 yds, 30 TD, 7 INT, 66.1%
Rush stats: 1,473 yds, 20 TDs
The lowdown: For someone who only played one season, Cam Newton sure left his mark on SEC history. The Auburn quarterback exploded onto the scene in 2010 and led the Tigers to an undefeated season and a national championship. Oh and did I mention he also won the Heisman, too? Newton was a load in the backfield at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds. A dual-threat in the truest form, Newton possessed a rare combination of size and speed. With 50 touchdowns and more than 4,000 total yards, he put up numbers that some college quarterbacks don’t put up in their entire collegiate career. His SEC career may have only been for one season, but it’s definitely not one we will ever forget.
3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (2012-2013)
Pass stats: 7,820 yds, 63 TD, 22 INT, 68.9%
Rush stats: 2,169 yds, 30 TD
The lowdown: Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football. Just the name encompasses so much. If you can overlook the latest TMZ news on Manziel and his celebrity lifestyle, you’ll see that Johnny Football was one of the conference’s best quarterbacks in the BCS era. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Manziel was smaller than guys like Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, but the Texas A&M quarterback was elusive. He seemingly evaded any pressure that was thrown is way and usually completed the play with a ridiculous completion just to top it off. In just two seasons as a starter, Manziel racked up 93 touchdowns and nearly 10,000 total yards. Manziel never backed away from the limelight and he thrived as one of sports’ most talked about players during his time in college station.
The Pro-Style 7
4. AJ McCarron, Alabama (2011-2013)
Pass stats: 9,019 yards, 77 TD, 15 INT, 66.9%
Rush stats: 3 TDs
The lowdown: Despite, McCarron’s gaudy numbers during his three years as Alabama’s starting quarterback, he was often underrated. Perhaps it was the enormous amount of talent around him or that his game lacked the flash of someone like Johnny Manziel, but there’s no doubt that McCarron was an outstanding signal caller. He led Alabama to consecutive national championships in 2011 and 2012 and came within a miracle return of possibly having a shot at a third national title. He was often referred to as a game-manager, but McCarron’s resume proves that he is smart, efficient quarterback that wins in the game’s biggest moments.
Related: AJ McCarron played hurt at Alabama
5. Aaron Murray, Georgia (2010-2013)
Pass stats: 13,166 yds, 121 TD, 41 INT, 62.3%
Rush stats: 396 yds, 16 TD
The lowdown: Murray finished his career with Georgia after the 2013 season and wow…what a career it was. With 13,166 passing yards and 121 passing touchdowns, Murray holds the SEC record for the both of those categories. Despite the best passing numbers in conference history, Murray only finds himself at No. 5 on our list. The biggest knock against Murray was that he couldn’t win the big games for the Bulldogs. His 5-14 record against ranked teams isn’t pretty and he was never able to bring an SEC Championship to Georgia, but there’s no denying how prolific of a passing career he had in Athens.
6. Chris Leak, Florida (2003-06)
Pass stats: 11,213 yds, 88 TD, 42 INT, 61.4%
Rush stats: 137 yds, 13 TD
The lowdown: Although his record of 895 career completions was broken by Aaron Murray in 2013, that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Leak’s third in all-time in career passing yardage to Georgia’s David Greene, with 11,213 yards. The numbers were always there for Leak, but leading the Gators to an SEC and BCS championship during his senior season bumps him up on our list.
7. Eli Manning, Ole Miss (2000-03)
Pass stats: 10,119 yds, 81 TD, 35 INT, 60.8%
Rush stats: 5 TDs
The lowdown: 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. Although he never brought Ole Miss an SEC Championship, his performance on the field took the Rebels to a Cotton Bowl victory and a 10-3 record in 2003.
8. David Greene, Georgia (2001-04)
Pass stats: 11,528 yds, 72 TD, 32 INT, 59.0%
Rush stats: 5 TDs
The lowdown: Few remember what David Greene accomplished at Georgia. Greene finished his career as the winningest quarterback in NCAA history with 42 wins, ahead of Peyton Manning. He won an SEC Championship in 2002, and he was an SEC first- and second-team performer in 2002-04. Green’s record of 11,528 passing yards was broken by fellow Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in 2013, but Greene’s resume speak for itself as one of the best since 1998.
9. Rex Grossman, Florida (2000-02)
Pass stats: 9,164 yds, 77 TD, 36 INT, 61%
Rush stats: 6 TD
The lowdown: Grossman became the first sophomore QB in Florida history to garner first-team All-American honors in 2001. Grossman almost won the honor of being the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy that year, but he finished as the runner up to Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch. He is fifth all time in Gator history with 9,164 yards and stands fourth with 77 touchdowns. He was inducted as a “Gator Great” in the University of Florida athletic Hall of Fame last spring.
10. Matthew Stafford, Georgia (2006-08)
Pass stats: 7,731 yds, 51 TD, 33 INT, 57.1%
Rush stats: 6 TD
The lowdown: Stafford still stands to this day – on paper – as one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever come through the SEC. He remains fourth in school history with the most completions with 987 and fourth in career passing yards with 7,731. His 51 touchdowns also stand fourth in school history. His skills on the field translated to a No. 1 draft pick in the 2009 draft, but only No. 10 on our list of the SEC’s best BCS quarterbacks.