Top 25 SEC QBs of all-time: No. 5-1
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.
- Top 25 SEC QBs of all-time No. 25-21
- Top 25 SEC QBs of all-time No. 20-16
- Top 25 SEC QBs of all-time No. 15-11
- Top 25 SEC QBs of all-time No. 10-6
5.) DANNY WUERFFEL, FLORIDA (1993-96)
The best quarterback to ever play for Steve Spurrier, this gunslinger set the Gators’ all-time passing mark in 1996 with 10,875 career yards and still holds the program’s all-time touchdown passes record of 114, including 39 in a single-season.
During that incredible 1996 campaign, the nearly flawless Fun-N-Gun passer led Florida to its fourth consecutive SEC championship and first national championship in program history as the school’s second-ever Heisman winner. He swept every major national award and became the first quarterback in college football history to ever post efficiency ratings of 170.0 or higher in consecutive years.
A fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 1997, Wuerrfel would go on to appear in 25 career NFL games. Pre-Tim Tebow, Wuerffel was considered the greatest player ever at the University of Florida and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
708-1,170, 10,875 yards, 114 TD, 42 INT
All-American (1995-96); All-SEC (1995-96); Heisman Trophy (1996); SEC Player of the Year (1995-96); Davey O’Brien Award (1995-96); Draddy Trophy (1996); Maxwell Award (1996); Walter Camp Award (1996); Unitas Golden Arm Award (1996); College Football Hall of Fame (2013)
No. 99 overall (fourth round) in 1997
4.) CAM NEWTON, AUBURN (2010)
Newton posted arguably the most impressive single-season ever for a college quarterback in 2010, leading the unbeaten Tigers to their second national championship in school history while garnering the program’s third top individual honor — the Heisman Trophy — in runaway fashion.
A 6-foot-6, 250-pound wrecking ball under center, Newton engineered one of college football’s top offenses on the Plains to become the first SEC player to ever throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. His Tigers beat six nationally-ranked teams during their run to a sparkling 14-0 record and broke several long-standing league records for total offense (thanks to OC Gus Malzahn) in the process.
Following his 50-touchdown junior campaign, the national champion JUCO transfer and former Florida signee skipped his final season at Auburn for the NFL Draft. He was picked first overall by the Carolina Panthers and has been their franchise quarterback since, winning the league’s rookie of the year award in 2011 and twice reaching the Pro Bowl.
185-280, 2,854 yards, 30 TD, 7 INT; 1,473 yards rushing, 20 TD
All-American (2010); All-SEC (2010); Heisman Trophy (2010); AP Player of the Year (2010); Walter Camp Player of the Year (2010); Maxwell Award (2010); Davey O’Brien Award (2010)
No. 1 in 2011
3.) JOHNNY MANZIEL, TEXAS A&M (2012-13)
The first freshman to ever win the prestigious Heisman Trophy, Manziel had the college football world in the palm of his hand during his awe-inspiring 2012 season when he set an SEC-record with 5,116 yards of total offense and 47 touchdowns for the Aggies.
Known for his incredible accuracy and ability to escape pressure and slither through the heart of a defense for highlight-worthy plays, Manziel exceeded Cam Newton and Tim Tebow’s best individual seasons as a freelance, dual-threat playmaker. His signature win in 2012 came at No. 1 Alabama when he torched Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide with 345 yards of total offense.
He is also the first freshman and only the fifth player in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more in a single season.
Manziel’s 93 total touchdowns ranks sixth all-time in the SEC despite only playing two seasons. He was selected No. 22 overall by the Cleveland Browns in last year’s draft.
595-863, 7,820 yards, 63 TD, 22 INT; 2,169 yards rushing, 30 TD
All-American (2012); All-SEC (2012-13); Heisman Trophy (2012); SEC Freshman of the Year (2012) Davey O’Brien Award (2012); Manning Award (2012); AP National Player of the Year (2012)
No. 22 overall in 2014
2.) PEYTON MANNING, TENNESSEE (1994-97)
The SEC’s all-time wins leader with 39 as a 3.5-year starter for the Vols, Manning ranks in the SEC’s Top 5 in several statistical categories including passing yards and touchdowns and holds the league record with 18 300-yard games.
Manning never won a national championship, but did lead Tennessee to an SEC title in 1997 as the league’s player of year and Heisman runner-up. Voted to three All-American teams during his tenure in Knoxville, Manning holds nearly every relevant passing record at Tennessee and is widely-considered the program’s best offensive player in history.
Even more impressive in the professional ranks, the five-time NFL MVP is the league’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes and is the Indianapolis Colts’ all-time leader in career wins, passing touchdowns, attempts, completions and yards. Before joining John Elway’s Denver Broncos in 2012, Manning won his first Super Bowl with the Colts in 2007. He’s appeared in the big game three times.
After retirement, whenever that may come, Manning will be a first ballot Hall of Famer at both levels.
863-1,381, 11,201 yards, 89 TD, 33 INT
All-American (1995-97); All-SEC (1995-97); SEC Freshman of the Year (1994); SEC Player of the Year (1997); Heisman runner-up (1997); Maxwell Award (1997); Davey O’Brien Award (1997); Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (1997)
No. 1 overall in 1998
1.) TIM TEBOW, FLORIDA (2006-09)
One of the last century’s most dynamic college football players, this three-time All-American won two national championships and a Heisman Trophy at Florida to unseat several greats before him as the league’s top quarterback in history.
Tebow holds the SEC record for total career touchdowns (145) and single-season scores (55). At the time of his departure in 2009, Tebow 5 NCAA, 14 SEC and 28 school records for offense. A three-year starter after playing an impact reserve role on the Gators’ 2006 national title team as a true freshman, Tebow threw 83 touchdown passes and ran for 49 more scores during an incredible stretch as the league’s best quarterback.
Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman in 2007 after obliterating previous league records with 55 total touchdowns. He finished the regular season as the only player in FBS history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in the same season.
In 2008, Tebow garnered the most first-place votes again but finished third in Heisman voting behind Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy at Texas. He did however capture the ultimate prize, leading the Gators to a BCS Championship win over Bradford’s Sooners a few weeks later. Tebow won the Maxwell Award for the second straight year and became synonymous with motivational greatness when he promised his teammates and all others who would listen that Florida would not lose again following an early-season loss to Ole Miss. He was right.
As a senior, Tebow missed out on a shot at a third national title when his unbeaten Gators were upended by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. In his collegiate finale, with scouts watching every throw, Tebow passed for a career-high 482 yards in a Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.
Tebow finished 35-6 as a starter in Gainesville with more accolades than any quarterback in program and SEC history. He signed a one-year deal this week with the Philadelphia Eagles in an attempt to restart his brief NFL career after a stint as a college football analyst for the SEC Network.
661-995, 9,285 yards, 88 TD, 16 INT; 2,947 yards, 57 TD
All-American (2007-09), All-SEC (2007-09); Heisman Trophy (2007); AP Player of the Year (2007); SEC POTY (2008); Maxwell Award (2007-08); Davey O’Brien Trophy (2007); Manning Award (2008)
No. 25 overall in 2010