When recalling the greatest quarterbacks in SEC history, you’re likely never to hear about LSU quarterback Rohan Davey. Unless you attended Louisiana State University or watched him terrorize the entire SEC back in 2001, you’ve probably never heard of him at all. As simply as I can put it, he might be the most underrated quarterback in SEC history.
In 2000, a guy named Nick Saban was hired as the head coach of the LSU football program. That first season went alright as LSU finished 8-4 with Josh Booty (who?) as the team’s starting quarterback. The next year, Rohan Davey took over and delivered one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in program history. He capped it with a record-setting Sugar Bowl performance that re-launched LSU’s program toward the top of college football over the next two decades, but even that wasn’t his greatest game as a Tiger.
Rohan Davey was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, but he played football at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Florida. In his final two prep seasons, Davey was a two-time All-State quarterback who threw for over 4,000 yards and 52 touchdowns. That led him to LSU in 1998, but he wasn’t called upon much from the start.
Davey shined in spot duty over his first two years of college football, but he was primarily a backup both seasons. As a junior, Davey was electric again in only four games, including earning Peach Bowl Most Valuable Player honors after coming off the bench to overcome a 14-3 deficit to beat Georgia Tech. After waiting his turn, Davey finally got the keys from Saban in 2001.
During his senior year, Davey set the LSU single-season record for passing yards (3,347) that still stands. On November 3, 2001, the Tigers traveled to Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. On Alabama’s Homecoming, Davey spoiled the party by having the greatest single-game passing performance in LSU history.
Davey finished the Alabama game with the school record for passing yards (528) and completions (35). He is still the only quarterback in LSU history to throw for more than 500 yards in a single game, and later became the only LSU QB to throw for 400 or more yards twice.
Not to be outdone, LSU wide receiver Josh Reed hauled in 19 passes for 293 yards that day, both which are still school records. In 2001, Reed became the Tigers’ all-time leader in career receiving yards (3,001) and set single-season marks for catches (94) and yards (1,740) that still stand.
After the Alabama win, the Tigers never lost a game the rest of the 2001 season.
Davey led LSU to the SEC Title by defeating the second-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, although he missed much of the game with a rib injury. He’d return a few weeks later to set the Sugar Bowl record with 444 passing yards in a 47-34 win over Illinois.
That mark was only eclipsed by Florida’s Tim Tebow and his 482 passing yards in 2010.
After being a fourth-round pick at the 2002 NFL Draft, Davey won two Super Bowl rings as Tom Brady’s backup with the New England Patriots. He went on to be named NFL Europe’s Player of the Year in 2004 and won the World Bowl title quarterbacking the Berlin Thunder, but he never made much of an impact at the NFL level. He would go on to throw 91 touchdowns in the Arena Football League, though.
Rohan St. Patrick Davey’s LSU Tigers career might be a short one, but his run of record-setting performances is hard to top. He might not be remembered as one of the greatest ever, but in Baton Rouge, he absolutely should be.