Many people believe 2018 is the “Year of the Quarterback” in the SEC. With Drew Lock at Missouri, Jarrett Stidham at Auburn, Jake Bentley at South Carolina, Nick Fitzgerald at Mississippi State, Jalen Hurts/Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama and Jake Fromm at Georgia, someone is going get snubbed from the All-SEC teams at the end of the season.
With all this new quarterback talent taking control of college football in the Southeastern Conference, it got us thinking: who were the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the SEC?
There are a few factors that went into these selections. Balance between leading winning college football programs, and slinging the rock, helped to create a basic outline for who was most deserving to represent their university. Quarterbacks do more than throw the ball; they have to lead.
Disagree? Good. Let us know who we missed, why they deserve to make the list, and what you’d change about the order.
Without further adieu, here are Fanbuzz’s 15 Greatest Quarterbacks All-Time in the SEC.
15. Pat Sullivan, Auburn
Sullivan broke numerous passing records at Auburn and the SEC during his three seasons starting for Auburn legendary coach Ralph Jordan. In 1970, when he led the nation in total touchdowns, which set the table for his Heisman winning season the following year in 1971. Sullivan’s 26-7 record, as well as finishing every season in the top-20 nationally, lands Sullivan on this list as an Auburn great.
14. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw starts list for two main reasons. First, during Shaw’s four years at South Carolina, he compiled the best career record as a starter (27-5) including a 17-0 at home, also a Gamecocks’ record. The second reason is because Shaw is one of the most accurate passers in SEC history. His career 65.5 completion percentage is fifth in SEC history. Shaw appeared in 43 games at South Carolina, and he earned his place as the greatest quarterback in school history.
13. Steve Spurrier, Florida
Spurrier is known for his coaching career, but as the Gators quarterback in the 1960s, Spurrier led one of the best careers for an SEC quarterback at that time. In three seasons, Spurrier rewrote the Florida Gators career passing records, as well as Southeastern Conference records for passing and total offense. In 1966, Spurrier was named the SEC Player of the Year and the Heisman Trophy winner. He is still the only player on the losing team to be named MVP of the Sugar Bowl.
12. Eli Manning, Ole Miss
The “Kid Brother” set 45 passing records during his Ole Miss career. In 2003, Manning was named First-Team All-American, and was awarded the Maxwell Trophy as the nation’s top player; he finished third in the Heisman voting behind winner Jason White and Larry Fitzgerald. Manning also led Ole Miss to it’s first 10-win season at the program since the 1971 team led by coach Billy Kinard. It was an SEC career of numbers, not of wins for Eli.
11. Tommy Hodson, LSU
The four-time first-team All-SEC quarterback is a no brainer on this list. Hodson led LSU to two SEC Championships in 1986 as a freshman and 1988 as a junior. Way ahead of his time, Hodson became the first quarterback to throw for more than 60 career TDs, and he was the third QB in NCAA history to finish all four seasons with over 2,000 passing yards. Hodson’s Tigers never finished reached the pinnacle of the NCAA, but he still finished with one of the best quarterback careers in the SEC.
10. Tim Couch, Kentucky
Couch starts the top-10 with two of the greatest seasons in SEC history. Starring on a Wildcats team that went 12-11 over two seasons, Couch was anything but mediocre. In his first season as the starter in 1997, Couch led the SEC in every single passing category. He was even better in 1998. The Heisman Finalist broke his own SEC single season records for completions, completion percentage, and passing yards; he still holds all of those records today. Team play didn’t help Couch, but he put up two of the greatest seasons in conference history.
9. Chris Leak, Florida
Leak set the table for another quarterback ranked higher on this list, but he made his own mark on the SEC. Leak led Florida to a 13-1 record as a senior in 2006, the program’s first SEC Championship since 2000, and the National Championship title; Leak was named the championship game’s Offensive MVP. During his career, Leak broke Florida records for completions, attempts, and passing yards, all of which still rank top three in conference history. Leak gets overshadowed for his successor, but he deserves a place among SEC royalty.
8. Aaron Murray, Georgia
The SEC’s best statistical passer would be ranked higher if it weren’t for his team’s going 1-3 in bowl games and amassing a career record of 36-18. Murray was a model of consistency, finishing all four of his seasons with over 3,000 passing yards. Murray is the SEC career leader in completions, attempts, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. He’s the fifth rated passer in conference history. They say numbers never lie; in this case, they do. Murray threw a lot early, but it never amounted to more than a Capital One Bowl MVP in 2013.
7. David Greene, Georgia
The Bulldogs quarterback ended his career as the SEC’s winningest quarterback (42 wins) and finished his career as the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,528); both records have since been broken by Colt McCoy and Aaron Murray, respectively. Greene’s senior 2004 was his most efficient season, throwing 20 touchdown passes against only four interceptions, but 2002 was his Georgia’s best as a team. The Bulldogs went 13-1, won the SEC Championship, and Greene was named the conference’s Player of the Year.
6. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012. His 5,116 total yards and 47 total touchdowns is one of the greatest season in NCAA history. The next year, Manziel threw for 4,114 yards, the second most in a single season in SEC history. He also completed 69.9 percent of his passes that season, as well. In back-to-back years, Manziel was responsible for 47 and 46 touchdowns for the Aggies; both of those numbers are two of the four best seasons in SEC history. Manziel left college early, but he left his mark as one of the most electrifying players to ever play in the SEC.
5. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
Call A.J. McCarron a game manager in Nick Saban’s system if you want, but he’s the winningest quarterback in SEC history. McCarron has three national championship on his resume, including being the first quarterback to win back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. The Crimson Tide signal caller was named first-team All-American his senior season. McCarron’s ridiculous 77 to 15 touchdown to interception ratio is mind-blowing; he’s the fourth rated passer in the history of the SEC. McCarron wasn’t didn’t have to carry his team statistically, but he was the quarterback an Alabama Crimson Tide dynasty at its peak. That’s special.
4. Cam Newton, Auburn
It only took one season for Cam Newton to make his mark in SEC history. Newton’s 2010 season at Auburn is considered one of the greatest quarterback season in NCAA history, not just in the SEC. Newton’s 182.0 passer rating in 2010 is the best single-season mark in SEC history. His 51 total touchdowns were the second most in conference history, and he won the 2010 Heisman trophy in a landslide over Andrew Luck. Newton took Auburn to their first National Championship since 1957. The consensus All-American is still one of the greatest dual-threat quarterbacks to ever step foot on a football field.
3. Danny Wuerffel, Florida
Danny Wuerffel must had two of the best seasons to close a career in SEC history. In 1995 and 1996, the Gators quarterback led the nation in total touchdowns and led the SEC in passing yards and total offense. Wuerffel was a two-time Davey O’Brien Award winner, named first-team All-SEC twice, took home SEC Player of the Year twice, and won the Maxwell Award and Heisman Trophy in 1996. The Gators were named 1996 National Champions with 12-1 record and the nation’s best player at helm in Gainesville. Oh, he also won the SEC four years in a row.
2. Peyton Manning, Tennessee
The Sheriff was a legendary NFL quarterback. In the SEC, he was a notch down, at great. His 89 passing touchdowns are third most all-time in SEC history. The owner of every Tennessee passing record from 300-yard games (18) to career wins (39), Manning finished runner-up to Charles Woodson for the 1997 Heisman Trophy as a senior, as well as finishing voting eighth as a sophomore and third as junior. Manning went on to be the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, and the rest is history. No one did it with the command and skill that Manning did. There may never be a better player to walk on the field for the University of Tennessee.
1. Tim Tebow, Florida
Were you expecting someone else? The Chosen One is the greatest quarterback in SEC history. The three-time first-team All-SEC selection led Florida to the a 13-1 record and the National Championship in 2008. His 2007 Heisman trophy season was the best season in SEC history for a quarterback; His 55 total touchdowns is still the SEC record, and 23 rushing touchdowns was the record (it’s since been broken by Derrick Henry). Tim Tebow is still the highest rated passer in SEC history. Heart. Desire. Help from above. Tim Tebow did all the right things, and he deserves to be remembered as the best quarterback in SEC history.