Everything we thought about was developed at the turn of the century, and then some. The quarterback game evolved in the 2000s to numbers we never imagined: 3,500/1,000 seasons, 200 passing scores, a completion rate of nearly 80%.
While we wait to see where the position will go in the 2020s, let’s take a step back and summarize what we’ve seen so far by ranking the best quarterbacks of the century so far.
Honestly, it was an even more difficult task than I had imagined. We’ve seen Cam Newtons explode in a single season, and we’ve seen Case Keenums and Baker Mayfields suffer four or five turnovers that resulted in seemingly untouchable career totals. How can you compare Keenum or Kellen Moore to Newton or Joe Burrow? Very carefully! I’m sure you won’t disagree with any of the following options!
Let’s get started.
60. Kevin Kolb, HoustonYear: 2003-06
Stats: 12,964 passing yards, 62% completion percentage, 85 touchdowns, 31 interceptions, 21 rushing touchdowns.
Art Briles’ first muse at the collegiate level, Kolb steadily improved throughout his four years and led the Cougs to their first 10-win season in 16 years as a senior.
59. Andy Dalton, TCU
Stats: 10,314 passing yards, 62% completion percentage, 71 TDs, 30 INTs, 1,611 passing yards, 22 passing TDs.
Both Dalton and the Horned Frogs have gotten better and better over the course of their careers: 11-2, then 12-1, then 13-0, with the only Rose Bowl victory in his last three seasons.
58. Zach Wilson, BYU
Stats: 7,652 passing yards, 68% completion rate, 56 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 15 rushing touchdowns.
The best QB in college since Steve Sarkisian. He first made headlines when he scored 18-of-18 for 317 yards in a bowl as a rookie. He then finished his career as a top-10 draft pick after putting up 3,692 yards and a passer rating of 196.4 in 2020.
Zach Wilson’s 2020 campaign ensured he was picked second in the 2021 NFL Draft. AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
57. Matt Barkley, USC
Stats: 12,327 passing yards, 64% completion rate, 116 TDs, 48 INTs, 6 rushing TDs.
The Trojans’ slow decline began when Barkley joined the team, but he did his best to turn the tide and led a 10-win resurgence as a junior in 2011.
56. Aaron Rodgers, CalYear: 2003-04
Stats: 5,469 passing yards, 64% completion rate, 43 TDs, 13 INTs, 8 rushing TDs.
The future Green Bay player, who was not recruited in high school, had a great year at Butte Community College before catching the eye of Jeff Tedford and leading the Golden Bears to an exciting 2004 season.
55. Todd Rising, KansasYear: 2006-09
Stats: 11,194 passing yards, 64% completion percentage, 90 TDs, 33 INTs, 15 rushing TDs.
Leading Kansas to an Orange Bowl title is a great way to boost your resume, right? Riesing’s lack of success led KU to 25 wins in three years as a starter. In the 11 seasons since his departure, the Jayhawks have ….. won. 27 games.
54. Patrick Mahomes, Texas TechYear: 2014-16
Stats: 11,252 passing yards, 64% completion percentage, 93 TDs, 29 INTs, 22 rushing TDs.
Even by the standards of a typical Air Raid quarterback, Mahomes was asked to do a lot. In 2015, he gave up 44 assists per game as a sophomore, then 49 per game as a junior, and despite being, you know, Patrick Dang Mahomes, Tech was only 12-13 in that span.
53. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma
Status: 13,618 passing yards, 63% completion rate, 92 TDs, 26 INTs, 17 rushing TDs.
Few quarterbacks have thrown a nicer deep ball. The Cowboys won 10 games and finished Rudolph’s three seasons as a top-20 AP starter. Since his departure, they have averaged eight wins.
52. Joey Harrington, Oregon
Stats: 6,911 passing yards, 55% completion percentage, 59 TDs, 23 INTs, 18 rushing TDs.
After averaging eight wins on the year, Mike Bellotti’s program took a leap forward at Oregon when Harrington became the starter. They went 21-3 in two years and were second in the 2001 polls thanks to Harrington’s 350 yards in the Fiesta Bowl.
51. Keenan Reynolds, Fleet Years: 2012-15
Stats: 4,001 passing yards, 52% completion percentage, 31 TDs, 8 INTs, 4,559 passing yards, 88 passing TDs.
Reynolds, one of the best QBs of all time, entered the starting lineup in the middle of his freshman year and immediately changed Navy’s program. The Midshipmen won 11 games last season with a top-20 record.
50. Brad Banks, Iowa State: 2001-02
Stats: 3155 passing yards, 58% completion percentage, 30 TDs, 7 INTs, 7 rushing TDs.
A one-year wonder? Sure, but what a year it’s been. After the Hawkeyes won 11 games in Kirk Ferentz’s first three years as Iowa’s head coach, Banks went from relative unknown to Heisman for Carson Palmer in 2002.
49. David Carr, Fresno State year: 1997-2001-Statistiken: 7,458 passing yards, 63% completion rate, 65 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, 9 rushing touchdowns.
The 2001 Fresno State team excited minds as few mid-majors, starting with 6-0 victories over Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin. They finished with 11 wins, and Carr was impressive enough to be selected first overall in the 2002 NFL Draft.
48. Dan Lefebvre,
Central Michigan: 2006-09
Stats: 12,905 passing yards, 66% completion percentage, 102 TD, 36 INT, 2,948 passing yards, 47 passing TDs.
The three-time MAC champion averaged over 3,000 yards and 700 rushing per season and helped Brian Kelly and Butch Jones advance. CMU hasn’t won a conference title since he left.
47. Denard Robinson, Michigan
Stats: 6,250 passing yards, 57% completion percentage, 49 TDs, 39 INTs, 4,495 passing yards, 42 TDs.
Perhaps the best moment of the Rich Rod era at Michigan was the signing of Robinson, who captured the imagination of fans and averaged over 2,000 passing yards and 1,300 rushing yards over the past three seasons. We are already used to these statistics. This did not exist ten years ago.
Denard Robinson led Michigan to a Sugar Bowl victory in 2012 and six Wolverines last year. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
46. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
stats: 6,209 passing yards, 62% completion percentage, 51 TDs, 14 INTs, 4,343 passing yards, 48 TDs.
It’s one thing for him to have produced the aforementioned statistics, it’s another for him to have done so in two years, averaging 3,000 passing yards and nearly 1,900 passing yards in 2012-13 and leading NIU to 24 wins and an Orange Bowl appearance. The perfect QB for the MACtion era.
45. Kyle Trask, Florida Years: 2018-20
Stats: 7,386 passing yards, 68% completion rate, 69 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 8 rushing touchdowns.
Trask was already a junior when he auditioned after an injury to incumbent talent Felipe Franks….. and threw for more than 7,000 yards in the next 22 games. Pretty good hearing.
44. Eli Manning, Ole MissJaar: 2000-03
Stats: 10,119 passing yards, 61% completion rate, 81 TDs, 35 INTs, 5 rushing TDs.
Before winning two Super Bowls, Manning nearly accomplished something even more rare and impressive in college: He had nearly beaten Nick Saban and secured the SEC West title at Ole Miss in 2003.
43. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
Stats: 11,762 passing yards, 58% completion percentage, 95 touchdowns, 39 touchdowns, 6 rushing touchdowns.
We all thought Charlie Wise was a genius when he arrived in South Bend and immediately jumped Notre Dame into the top 10 rankings for the last 12 years. However, Weis’ reputation fell apart pretty quickly when Quinn’s eligibility expired.
42. Eric Crouch, Nebraska
Stats: 4,881 passing yards, 52% completion rate, 29 touchdowns, 25 touchdowns, 3,434 passing yards, 59 passing touchdowns.
Nebraska’s last great QB option, Crouch, didn’t produce the stats we’ve come to expect from Heisman winners. But he was a scary, scary man with a bullet in his hand. Ask Missouri.
41. Byron Leftwich, Marshall: 1998-2002
Stats: 11,903 passing yards, 65% completion percentage, 89 touchdowns, 28 touchdowns, 6 rushing touchdowns.
Leftwich, a shooter of the old school, led the Thundering Herd to two conference titles and two memorable moments: a 30-point comeback against East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Cup and a narrow comeback with a broken leg against Akron the following year.
40. Aaron Murray, Georgia: 2010-13
Stats: 13,166 passing yards, 62% completion rate, 121 TDs, 41 INTs, 16 rushing TDs.
Murray revived the Mark Richt era in Athens, leading the 2012 Dawgs with seconds left in the BCS Championship Game and not only scoring the most yards in SEC history, but finishing nearly 1,000 yards ahead of number two Drew Lock and nearly 2,000 yards ahead of number three David Green.
39. Colt Brennan, Hawaii Year: 2005-07
Stats: 14,193 passing yards, 70% completion percentage, 131 TDs, 42 INTs, 15 rushing TDs.
Few QB combinations have been as successful as Brennan and run leader June Jones. Hawai’i scored over 40 points 24 times in Brennan’s three years and had a 12-0 start, a third-place finish in the Sugar Bowl and a third-place finish in the 2007 Heisman voting.
38. Colleen Klein, Kansas: 2009-12
Stats: 4,724 passing yards, 61% completion percentage, 30 TDs, 15 INTs, 2,485 passing yards, 56 passing TDs.
If Dominic Wilkins was the Human Root, then Klein was the Third Human and controlled the transformation. He led a ferocious K-State offense in 2011 and 2012, leading the Wildcats to 21 wins and Bill Snyder to his second Big 12 title.
37. Alex Smith, Utah: 2002-04
Stats: 5203 passing yards, 66% completion percentage, 47 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 1072 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns.
Smith was a steady, safe option for Utah’s heavyweight team in 2003, but in 2004 he became the perfect vessel for Urban Meyer’s offense. He led the Utes to an undefeated season, finished fourth in the Heisman election, and showed enough potential to become the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft.
Alex Smith was one of Urban Meyer’s first successes as a quarterback. Jason Chan/USA Sports
36. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Stats: 16,646 passing yards, 64% completion rate, 123 TDs, 52 INTs, 3 rushing TDs.
Here’s the full list of conference QBs who have thrown for more yards than Jones:
It was difficult to measure Jones’ constant excellence in real time, but by the time he graduated, he had built a four-year statistical resume that no one has matched, even in the nearly decade since.
35. Mack Jones, Alabama
Stats: 6,126 passing yards, 74% completion percentage, 56 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 2 rushing touchdowns.
Like Trask, Jones tried patiently and didn’t see the field until he was injured. But after taking over from Tua Tagovailoa in late 2019, he led perhaps the best Bama team of all time to a 13-0 record in 2020 with a TD/Int ratio of 41-4.
34. Ken Dorsey, Miami
Stats: 9,565 passing yards, 58% completion percentage, 86 touchdowns, 28 touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns.
In the early 2000s, Mac Jones : He inherited a great reserve and rode it so well that he finished in the top five of the Heisman standings twice. The U has started 35-2 in three seasons and has won by double digits just twice since.
33. Chase Daniel, Missouri
Stats: 12,515 passing yards, 68% completion rate, 101 touchdowns, 41 interceptions, 10 rushing touchdowns.
Daniel was one of the most accurate quarterbacks of his era. He took Mizzou to No. 1 for the second time, finished fourth in the 2007 Heisman election and won a top-five and two division titles for a program that so craved success.
32. Graham Harrell, Texas TechYear: 2005-08
Stats: 15,793 passing yards, 70% completion rate, 134 touchdowns, 34 touchdowns, 12 rushing touchdowns.
What Daniel was to Mizzou, Harrell was to Tech. Along with WR Michael Crabtree, he won 20 games in 2007-08 and briefly propelled the Red Raiders to second place in the polls. In 2007, he averaged 55 passes and 439 yards per game, one of the best shooting performances of all time.
31. Troy Smith, Ohio,
Stats: 5,720 passing yards, 63% completion percentage, 54 TDs, 13 INTs, 168 passing yards, 14 passing TDs.
Ohio State won from start to finish in the 2006 regular season, and while Smith didn’t have much to do there, he did a lot when asked, winning the Heisman by over 1,600 points.
Of course, all of this would have been even more important if Smith and the Buckeyes hadn’t been absolutely humiliated by Florida in the national title game. This will affect your ranking a bit.
30. Jason White, Oklahoma
Stats: 7,922 passing yards, 63% completion rate, 81 touchdowns, 24 touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns.
Losses in the BCS Championship Game have somewhat tarnished White’s legacy, but his evolution from an athletic dual threat to a statuesque ballplayer after a knee injury has been a source of wonder. He received no votes for the Heisman and finished third in the other election.
29. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Stats: 10,098 passing yards, 58% completion rate, 82 touchdowns, 24 touchdowns, 4,112 passing yards, 59 rushing yards.
You need the perfect quarterback to fully realize the potential of this offensive system, and Kaepernick was the perfect muse for Chris Ault’s revolutionary weapon. As a senior, he threw for 3,022 yards, ran for 1,206 yards and led the Pack to 13 wins and 11th place in the AP rankings.
28. Rex Grossman, Florida Years: 2000-02
Stats: 9164 passing yards, 61% completion rate, 77 TDs, 36 INTs, 6 rushing TDs.
His resume was almost much better: He lost the 2001 Heisman-Crouch election by just 62 points, and his Gators missed the BCS title game that year by two points. Still, he left a legacy as Steve Spurrier’s last great QB.
27. Justin Fields, Georgia/Ohio
stats: 5,701 passing yards, 68% completion, 67 TDs, 9 INTs, 1,133 passing yards, 19 TDs.
Thanks to a shortened 2020 season, Fields was a starter in college for nearly a year and a half. But in that time he has been remarkably accurate and dynamic, leading Ohio State to two CFP appearances, a national championship and just two defeats.
Justin Fields is one of many quarterbacks on the roster who found success after switching systems. Kevin K. Cox/Getty Images
26. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami, Ohio
Stats: 10,829 passing yards, 66% completion percentage, 84 touchdowns, 34 touchdowns, 7 rushing touchdowns.
After two good seasons, Big Ben put all his eggs in one basket in 2003. His Redhawks beat Northwestern by 30 points, averaged 47 points per game in the MAC and left Louisville in the GMAC Bowl and in 10th place in the AP Poll.
25. Pat White, West Virginia
Stats: 6,049 passing yards, 65% completion percentage, 56 touchdowns, 23 touchdowns, 4,480 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns.
Few tandems have left such an impression as Pat White and Steve Slaton. From 2005 to 2007, the duo combined for 7,429 yards on the ground, 89 touchdowns, a 33-5 record and two BCS Bowls. Only injuries could slow White down in Rich Rodriguez’s body.
24. Russell Wilson, North Carolina/Wisconsin,
Stats: 11,720 passing yards, 61% completion rate, 109 TDs, 30 INTs, 1,421 passing yards, 23 TDs.
Wilson was so good during his three years at NC State that his number was honored; he transferred to Wisconsin as a senior and led the Badgers to the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl appearance. How many guys can claim they were always good at two different schools?
23. Jalen Hurts, Alabama/Oklahoma
stats: 9,477 passing yards, 65% completion rate, 80 TDs, 20 INTs, 3,274 passing yards, 43 passing TDs.
Hurts was a three-year starter, averaging 2,900 passing yards and 1,036 rushing yards per season, and led three CFP bids; he also helped save the CFP bid as Tua Tagovailoa’s replacement in 2018. He was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in his freshman year and finished second to the Heisman as a senior. What a career.
22. Case Keenum, HoustonYear: 2007-11
Stats: 19,217 passing yards, 69% completion rate, 155 TDs, 46 INTs, 23 rushing TDs.
The perfect QB for everything Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin wanted to accomplish at UH. He has over 5,000 yards and 40 TDs in three different seasons, and his 19,217 passing yards are over 2,000 more than anyone in history.
21. Carson Palmer, USC
Stats: 11,818 passing yards, 59% completion rate, 72 touchdowns, 49 touchdowns, 9 rushing touchdowns.
The former world rookie has been labeled a disappointment for most of his career, but he destroyed all complaints with a perfect final season. He provided the Trojans with a 3,942-yard punt return and won the 2002 Heisman Trophy.
20. Philip Rivers, NC State
Stats: 13,484 passing yards, 64% completion rate, 95 TDs, 34 INTs, 17 rushing TDs.
Rivers led State to its first 11-win season and third top-15 finish in 2002, its third as a starter on the team. In 2003, he threw for 4,491 yards with a 170.5 completion rate, the 13th best at the time.
19. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
years old: 2017-19
Stats: 7,442 passing yards, 69% completion rate, 87 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 9 rushing touchdowns.
The first time we saw a five-star recruit make meaningful shots as a freshman, he was the Crimson Tide’s savior in the national title game. He followed that up with his best performance in 2018 (199.4) and was at his peak (206.9) when an injury sidelined him the following year. His resume was incomplete, but remarkable.
Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts shared the same quarterback room at Alabama. They both ended up on the list. Kevin Jairaj/USA Monday Sports
18. Andrew Luck, Stanford
Stats: 9,430 passing yards, 67% completion rate, 82 TDs, 22 INTs, 7 rushing TDs.
In seven seasons before Luck took over, Stanford won a total of 25 games. In three years behind the wheel, the Cardinals won 31 games, culminating with the Orange Bowl title in 2010 (12-1). His arrival in Palo Alto completely changed the course of the program.
17. Matt Leinart, USC
Stats: 10,693 passing yards, 65% completion percentage, 99 touchdowns, 23 touchdowns, 9 rushing touchdowns.
Oh, no, Carson Palmer’s gone! How will Pete Carroll continue to work for USC?
After Leinart established himself as a QB, he went 37-2 over the next three seasons, winning a fraction of two national titles and nearly gambling on a third. Pretty good succession plan.
16. Jameis Winston, Florida
Stats: 7,964 passing yards, 66% completion percentage, 65 touchdowns, 28 touchdowns, 7 rushing touchdowns.
Winston was only there for two seasons, but his impact was absurd: After winning the Heisman by over 1,500 points and winning the first 27 games of his career, FSU won its first national title.
15. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Stats: 8,403 passing yards, 68% completion rate, 88 TDs, 16 INTs, 5 rushing TDs.
The 2008 attack on OU was the most prevalent attack in history at the time. Bradford has thrown for 4,720 yards and 50 TDs, and the Sooners have scored at least 58 points in six Big 12 games in a row this year. Only an injury in 2009 (and some goal line mistakes in the 2008 national title game) kept him out of the potential top 10.
14. Kellen Moore, Boise State: 2008-11
Stats: 14,667 passing yards, 70% completion rate, 142 TDs, 28 INTs, 3 rushing TDs.
50-3. Fifty-three! That was a Boise State record with Moore behind center. The Broncos are 6-0 against power conference teams and two of their three losses were against teams with QBs on that list (Kaepernick vs. Nevada, Dalton vs. TCU). Impeccable efficiency for four consecutive years.
13. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
stats: 7,820 passing yards, 69% completion percentage, 63 touchdowns, 22 touchdowns, 2,169 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns.
Texas A&M won 20 games in the Johnny Football era, beat Alabama (and almost did so twice) and immediately put an end to all the craziness Yes, but can this Big 12 offense work in the SEC…. That the Aggies joined the league. But that still doesn’t describe how dominant a player can be in sports consciousness over multiple seasons. You couldn’t take your eyes off him, because you had to see what he was going to do next.
12. Colt McCoy, TexasYear: 2006-09
Stats: 13,253 passing yards, 70% completion rate, 112 touchdowns, 45 touchdowns, 1,571 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns.
McCoy’s completion rate was 76.7% in 2008, the highest completion rate in the FBS in the last 12 years until McCoy Jones surpassed it last year. He finished in the top three of the Heisman poll twice (2008, 2009), and his legacy was about to be complete until he gave up with an injury on Horn’s first possession of the ball in the 2009 BCS Championship. Forty-five career wins and a big if.
11. Trevor Lawrence, ClemsonYear: 2018-20
Stats: 10,098 passing yards, 67% completion rate, 90 TDs, 17 INTs, 18 rushing TDs.
It was nearly impossible for Lawrence to live up to the expectations placed on him as a conference recruit at Clemson. He has surpassed them. The Tigers have lost just twice in three years behind center, won the 2018 national title and earned two more CFPs. And he has become one of the faces of an emerging movement of defensive players as a junior.
10. Robert Griffin III, BaylorYear: 2008-11
Stats: 10,366 passing yards, 67% completion percentage, 78 TD, 17 INT, 2,254 passing yards, 33 passing TDs.
Baylor hasn’t had a winning season in the 13 years before Griffin came along. In their final season, the Bears won 10 games, Griffin threw for 4,992 yards and 47 TDs combined and won the Heisman. He was Baylor’s Andrew Luck.
9. Marcus Mariota, Oregon,
Stats: 10,796 passing yards, 67% completion rate, 105 TDs, 14 INTs, 2,237 passing yards, 29 TDs.
In 2014, Oregon’s defense had deteriorated significantly, scoring over 27 points in seven games. And it didn’t matter, because the Ducks had Mariota. It’s hard to say that someone is undervalued if they win the Heisman and finish second in the NFL the next year. But even in the age of vulgar statistics, his 2014 totals – 5,224 passing and rushing yards combined and 57 TDs combined – stand out.
Marcus Mariota won his first and only Heisman Trophy at Oregon. AP Photo/Ryan Kang
8. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Stats: 9,043 passing yards, 57% completion percentage, 69 TDs, 27 INTs, 4,132 passing yards, 50 passing yards.
Woody Danzler of Clemson had his first 2,000/1,000 seasons at the turn of the century. Less than two decades later, Jackson fired 3,500 for 500. He was a solid passer and the most feared runner at the QB position since Michael Vick. And that’s an obstacle. Oh, it’s a chore.
7. Kyler Murray, Texas A&M/Oklahoma
Status: 5,406 passing yards, 67% completion percentage, 50 TDs, 14 INTs, 1,478 passing yards, 13 passing TDs.
Murray was a first-round draft pick in baseball, but chose college football last season in 2018. We were all better off. He fell in for Baker Mayfield, throwing 4,361 times, running 1,478 times and scoring 54 TDs combined. FOR A YEAR. Then he became a pioneer in a different concept.
6. Deshaun Watson, ClemsonYear: 2014-16
Stats: 10,168 passing yards, 67% completion percentage, 90 touchdowns, 32 touchdowns, 1,934 passing yards, 26 touchdowns.
Remember when Clemsoning was a spectacular failure on the big stage? You don’t? That’s because Watson came to town and took Dabo Swinney’s program from good to elite. In the 2015/16 season, he averaged 4,351 yards passing and 867 yards rushing. He first led the Tigers to the CFP title game and won it the following year. For now, Clemsoning just means winning a lot.
5. Joe Barrow, Ohio/LSU: 2016-19
Stats: 8,852 passing yards, 69% completion rate, 78 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 13 rushing touchdowns.
After a decent first season as a starter at LSU, Barrow simply opened the best season we’ve ever seen in college football. He threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns, had nearly as many rushing touchdowns (five) as interceptions (six) and led the Tigers, who had not finished in the top five in eight years, to a 15-0 record and a national title. His 2019 was good enough to hold his own alongside Cam Newton. There is no greater compliment than that.
4. Tim Tebow, Florida
Stats: 9,285 passing yards, 66% completion percentage, 88 TDs, 16 INTs, 2,947 passing yards, 57 passing TDs.
In 2006, Tebow played the role of short throw back and a feared passer in the red zone when Florida won the national title.
In 2007, he had a total of 4,181 yards and won the Heisman.
In 2008, he gave an immortal speech and led the Gators to a 13-1 record and a second title.
In 2009, he led the Gators to a new record of 13-1, scored 3,805 points and finished in the top five of the Heisman voting for the third straight year.
It’s almost impossible to have a great career.
3. Vince Young, Texas
Stats: 6,040 passing yards, 62% completion percentage, 44 TDs, 28 INTs, 3,127 passing yards, 37 passing TDs.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Young’s career: Halfway through, it was a disappointment. He was a formidable runner in the outfield, but his start was lacking and he was briefly benched in mid-2004.
Then he pressed the button. UT averaged 38 points per game and won the Rose Bowl in 2004. In 2005, they were one of the best teams in our history with a 13-game winning streak, while Young threw for 3,036 yards and ran for 1,050 yards. The final eight yards allowed the Horns to beat Matt Leinart and USC in the last second in the greatest national game of all time.
2. Cam Newton, Auburn
Years: 2007-10 (actually only 2010)
Stats: 2,908 passing yards, 65% completion percentage, 30 touchdowns, 7 touchdowns, 1,586 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns.
Ladies and gentlemen, the biggest supernova in sports in one season. After two years alongside Tebow at Florida, Newton won the national yuko title at Blinn College, then landed at Auburn and almost single-handedly led the Tigers to their first AP national title since 1957. His backups were good, but not of the same caliber as Young, Tebow, etc., but that was fine: he was both the best running back and the best quarterback in the sport.
He built an NFL career that included an MVP award, over 31,000 passing yards and a Super Bowl appearance.
1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Stats: 14,607 passing yards, 69% completion percentage, 131 TDs, 30 INTs, 1,083 passing yards, 21 passing TDs.
Newton, Young and Burrow had their best seasons. Mayfield had the best career.
It all started when he started at Texas Tech, quickly earning the starting job and throwing for 413 yards in his debut. He lost his job due to injury, transferred and ended up at OU. The Sooners have not won a Conference title since 2010, but he has led them to three consecutive titles with three top-five finishes and two CFP appearances. He finished his career with 4,938 yards and 48 TDs, won the Heisman and took OU to the national championship. He was so good that, despite his non-prototypical size, the Cleveland Browns couldn’t resist selecting him as their No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.