Tracking the 15 best college quarterbacks of all time season after season isn’t simple. There have been many great college quarterbacks in the past, and surely there are many more great QBs to come.
Moreover, before we talk about the top 15 college quarterbacks of all time, let’s consider what it means to be a quarterback in football.
What It Means To Be A Quarterback in Football
When we heard of big boys in pro football, we often find out that most of them are quarterback players. The quarterback position is the most crucial position in the game of American football. A quarterback may be defined as the “leader of the offense” and makes the hurdle call.
Being a quarterback means that you must know all the ins and outs of your team and that of the opponent. So what does a quarterback do in American college football? He receives a pass to start a play (scrimmage down), and then he may throw passes, run, or touchdown. A quarterback is sometimes the star figure of the team little wonder the likes of Tom Brady get paid millions to play as a quarterback for his team.
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Which is Harder NFL or College Football?
Most people who know college football very well will also know that college football is easier than NFL football. It is a comparison of players considered amateurs (NCAA) versus those considered pros (NFL). Some people who ask this may also ask something like ‘is college football bigger than NFL?’. Again, NFL football is bigger than NCAA college football in all respects. The National Football League is a very big sports league. The stadiums are bigger, the fans are more, the players are the best of the best, and the coaches are top-notch.
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Best NCAA Football Programs Over the past 5 Decades
There are a ton of football programs for college high performers. Ranking the best programs in college football is a daunting task. The best college football programs of all time include
- The Alabama Crimson Tide Football program is associated with the University of Alabama.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football program associated with the University of Notre Dame, Indiana
- Ohio State Buckeyes Football program associated with Ohio State University
- Oklahoma Sooners Football Program associated with the Oklahoma State University
- USC Trojans Football program by the University of Southern California.
These football programs were ranked based on the number of national titles they’ve won and the legendary players they produce. Some college football players are scholarship beneficiaries due to their athletic performance, and some even get drafted into the NFL.
Best College Quarterbacks of All Time List 2022
The best college quarterbacks of all time lists were rated based on a couple of factors. For this list, we put into consideration the following statistical factors:
- Team win percentage (From seasons when the quarterback was the primary starter or played at least half of the offensive snaps)
- Career passer rating
- Touchdowns generated per season (All TDs each player threw, ran for or caught during years they were the primary starter)
- Total offense per game (All passing yards and yards from scrimmage gained during years they were the primary starter)
- Quarterback percentage rating.
Most of the quarterbacks we included in this had to meet at least four of those categories or in three of them if they won the Heisman Trophy. The minimums were 1,200 pass yards, 100.0 passer rating, 25 touchdowns per season, and above 70 percent QB rating. Surely, we had more than 15 American college football players who checked these criteria. We had to streamline them into 15 eligible quarterbacks bearing in mind those who were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and those who weren’t.
Players in this list were not strictly ranked from best to worst based on the criteria but from recent and young to old timers. Bear in mind that the power ranking of the top 10 best college quarterbacks of all time always favors players who won the Heisman Trophy, and/or were placed in the top five in a given year, and for each year they were the primary starter. Having impressive stats/numbers, being part of great teams, and having career longevity surely elevated the best college QBs of all time 2022 list. Take a look at this list of the 15 best college football quarterbacks of all time, and see if you agree with who made the cut.
1. CJ Stroud
C.J. Stroud IV is a quarterback baller for the Ohio State Buckeyes team. Stroud is one of the best college quarterbacks of all time, owing to the fact that he has held many Ohio State records. Some of his impressive records include being one of the winning finalists of the Heisman Trophy (2021), and most passing yards in a single game with 573. He played for the football team while at Rancho Cucamonga High in California.
ESPN, CBS Sports, and Yahoo have documented his impressive stats on their websites. His college football career as a quarterback in 2021 has earned him Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year, and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year. Aged 20, Stroud is already the number 3 draft-eligible player for a career head start with the NBA.
2. Bryce Young
Bryce Christopher Young is an awesome American college footballer-rated number 2 draft-eligible player. He’s aged 21 and yet one of the best college quarterbacks of all time. His career stats are impressive for instance in 2021, he had 4,872 pass yards, 47 touchdowns, and an 87.6 quarterback rating as reported by ESPN.
Bryce Young plays for the Alabama Crimson Tide and is a recipient of the 2021 Heisman Trophy. He is now in the hall of fame in Alabama college quarterback history for the most passing yards in a single game.
3. Hendon Hooker
Alan Hendon Hooker is one of the best college quarterbacks of the year. He once played for his previous college team, Virginia Tech Hokies but now plays for Tennessee Volunteers. Being in his senior class, and one of the oldest on this list, still makes him breed excellence.
Hendon has 2,945 pass-yard records, 31 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 77.9. The above stats from ESPN indicates that this young is draft eligible for the NFL in the coming year or two.
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4. Sam Bradford
He was one of the successful football quarterbacks around 2008 and still is. Although a shoulder injury has limited him, the games he played last season produced impressive stats. Sam Bradford has a 175.6 passer rating, 46.5 touchdowns per season, and a quarterback rating of 175.6. He is also a Heisman Trophy finalist.
These figures would have put him in number 1 if not for a couple of setbacks like his inquiry and inactive time to recover from the surgery. He really helped the Oklahoma Sooners move up the league. He had a prolific career that ultimately made him one of the best college quarterbacks of all time.
5. Vinny Testaverde
He is a former American football quarterback with impressive career stats. Vinny Testaverde is a professional athlete who played 21 seasons in the National Football League. During his college years, he played for Miami Hurricanes (1982-1986), won the Heisman Trophy (1986), got drafted the following year, and even got inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame(2013).
6. Tim Tebow
Timothy Tebow is currently a free agent after getting out as a professional American Football player for the Jaguars. Between 2007-2009, he played college football for the Florida Gators. As a sophomore, he assisted the team in winning the Heisman Trophy and two BCS national championships.
His career stats were impressive for instance, he had more than 9,000 pass yards and 57 touchdowns just around his final year. Tebow won the award in the year (2007) which is a title that rarely came to Florida back then.
7. Cam Newton
Cameron Newton definitely needs to get into the best college quarterbacks of all time list. He played for his junior college team, Florida Gators for a year (2007-8) and later played for Blinn before joining Auburn Tigers throwing 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns. He is now a free agent nicknamed “Super Cam”.
Newton was selected to play for the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is a recipient of several American football awards including NFL Most Valuable Player and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2015.
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8. Vince Young
Vincent Young Jnr is a retired NFL quarterback who played for 6 seasons. He is one of the top 10 college football quarterbacks. He was the third draft-eligible player in 06 and was selected to be the cover of Madden in 08.
While he studied at the University of Texas, he played for the Texas Longhorns. Back then, he won the Davey O’Brien Award as the best quarterback in the USA (2005) and he also won the Heisman Trophy (2003). Vince Young has an impressive college career and NFL career stats. He threw 8,964 yards with a 74.4 passing rating, 57.9 completion percentage, and TD-INT of 46-51.
9. Baker Mayfield
Is Baker Mayfield one of the best college quarterbacks of all time? Yes, he surely is. He is a good quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. He performed well in college football and was drafted into the professional NFL team in 2018.
Mayfield played for Texas Tech as a freshman and went on to play for Oklahoma in 2014. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2017 with 86% of the possible points. Talk about a triumphant victory! His career stats as of 2021 includes 14,125 passing yards, 87.8 passer rating, and 92 touchdowns.
10. Marcus Mariota
Marcus is a professional NFL player for the Atlanta Falcons. He was drafted into the Tennessee Titans back in 2015 after his college football career. He played as a quarterback from 2012 to 2016, and during that period, Marcus has bagged tons of awards. He won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and Davey O’Brien Award just to name a few.
“Even without a final season in the books, he had one of the most decorated college careers for a quarterback,” wrote Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com. “Mariota threw for a touchdown in each of 41 starts. He was the first player in Pac-12 history to account for 5,000 yards of offense in a single season (5,224). And his 58 touchdowns to just seven turnovers made him the first FBS player to have a plus-50 turnover margin.”
11. Tua Tagovailoa
He is one of the best college football quarterbacks and also one of the best NFL quarterbacks as well. His full name is Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa born in Hawaii. He currently plays for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL but during his college years, Tua played at Alabama. His college football seasons as a sophomore produced impressive stats and awards. He was the Offensive MVP of the Football Playoff National Championship 2018.
Tua Tagovailoa has an 88.8 passer rating, 46.5 touchdowns per season, and a quarterback rating of 175.6. He had a prolific career that ultimately made him one of the best college quarterbacks of all time in 2022. He got drafted into the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2020.
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12. Bryce Petty
Bryce Petty played college football at Baylor University and produced impressive stats as a sophomore. The young baller was drafted by the New York Jets in 2015 in round 4. He really helped the Baylor Bears move up the league in 2013/14. He had a prolific career that ultimately made him one of the best college quarterbacks of all time.
Although retiring after the 2018 season with the Dolphins, Petty had 245 pass attempts, 130 of those completed, and he threw 1,353 yards with a 57.7 passer rating. During his college years, he had 845 pass attempts, 8,195 pass yards, and 21 touchdowns. This shows that the fire to be the best quarterback of all time was in Bryce Petty right from the start.
13. Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel made it to the best college quarterbacks of all time list thanks to his athletic excellence in college and NFL football. His college career traces back to playing for Texas A&M University in 2011/2. As a freshman, Johnny acquired the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Nat QB Award, and Manning Award. Manziel broke some NCAA and SEC records and was undoubtedly supposed to be on the best college quarterbacks of all time list in 2022.
He is currently a quarterback for the FCF Zappers in the National Football League (NFL). Interestingly, Manziel is one of the few Americans to be a member of the Canadian Football League (CFL) as well.
14. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning is a retired NFL quarterback who played for 18 seasons. His age-long experience and his loud voice prior to the snap got him the nickname “The Sheriff”. Peyton Manning is considered one of the best college football quarterbacks of all time. This is true because he has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2021) as well as the College Football Hall of Fame (2017).
He was the team’s starter when he played for the Tennessee Volunteers all throughout. He was the first draft-eligible player in 1998 into the NFL’s team Indianapolis Colts. During his college years, he threw 11,201 yards in total, 89 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions.
15. Chuck Long
He is one of the best college quarterbacks of all time tracing back to his college football performance at Iowa Hawkeyes (1981). Charles Franklin Long Jr now 60yr old is ‘one of best college QBs of all time’ according to one source. Records show that he is the only college football player to ever play in 5 bowl games.
As a freshman, Long had 1,374 pass yards, 8 touchdowns, and a 64.2 QB percentage. As a sophomore, he excelled greatly with impressive stats. His career as an NFL player and coach went beyond those numbers. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Our list of 15 best college quarterbacks in history wasn’t perfect but it captured the names of young and old legends in American college football. Some people may have wanted certain quarterbacks on this list and some out of the list. Would you like to add or subtract any from the list? Share your opinions in the comment section below.
FAQs on Best College Quarterbacks Of All Time
The greatest college quarterback of all time is variable depending on who you ask. There is no record of one player being the greatest American Football Player hence, we would say CJ Stroud according to this best college quarterback of all time list above.
CBS Sports report Malik Willis for the Titans as the best quarterback pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is followed by Kenny Pickett (Steelers), Sam Howell (Commanders), and Matt Corral (Panthers)
In terms of passing and rushing yards, Pat White is the best college quarterback of all time that could run and pass. He held the NCAA record with rushing yards of 4,480yds.
Case Keenum is the all-time passing leader in college football. He’s achieved the highest in passing yards, touchdowns, and completions. He’s done 450 rushing yards and currently plays for the Buffalo Bills.
Another noteworthy mention is Michael Vick at Virginia Tech. His college career as a quarterback makes him the best college quarterback of all time that could run and pass over the last 30 years.
We can unmistakably say that Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Tom Brady are the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now and still on fire.
- www.bleacherreport.com – Power Ranking of the 10 Greatest College Football QBs of All Time
- www.studiumtalk.com – Best College Quarterbacks of All Time – Stadium Talk
- www.ranker.com – The Greatest College Football Quarterbacks of All Time – Ranker