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The 10 Greatest College Quarterbacks of the 2000's


As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, I wanted to take a look back at the quarterbacks who had the greatest impact on college football over the last ten years.

In what is clearly the most visible position in all of sports, the great quarterback debate can be endless.

What are the credentials of a great quarterback? The answers you may get to this simple question can be endless, as well.

The greatest measure by any standard is wins. You better be able to lead your team to victories. Stats are just boring numbers if they don't lead to bowl wins and championships.

Passing yards, completion percentages, touchdowns...these are all important, but can end up as no more than window dressing on a bad team.

Here's a top 10 look at the players who did it all.

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10. Matthew Stafford, Georgia

The 6'3" 230lb quarterback from Highland Park, Texas began his career at Georgia with considerable hype.

In fact, Mel Kiper said Stafford would "eventually become the number one pick in the NFL draft."

Stafford didn't disappoint.

He won 35 games, including three bowl wins in his three-year career, after becoming the first true freshman to start at Georgia since Quincy Carter in 1998.

He also set the Georgia record for touchdown passes in 2008 with 25 and is second in school history in passing yards in a season, with 3,459.

Stafford also lived up to all the expectations as the 2008 Capital One Bowl MVP did go on to become the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft.


9. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

As strange as this may sound in reference to one of only two sophomores to ever win a Heisman Trophy, Sam Bradford's story is more of what could have been than anything else.

The talented quarterback from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma never got to finish what he started at Oklahoma after suffering a shoulder injury in the first game of his junior—and last—season.

However, when he was healthy Bradford put up amazing numbers.

In his redshirt-freshman season at OU, Bradford set a school record for consecutive pass completions (22) and broke the NCAA mark for touchdown passes (32.)

All Bradford did to follow up his freshman season was win the Heisman Trophy in a sophomore campaign that saw him throw for 4,721 yards and 50 touchdowns while leading the Sooners to their second consecutive Big XII Championship.


8. Chase Daniel, Missouri

This diminutive Texan could not have been any larger on the field. Daniel replaced a Missouri legend in Brad Smith and did it in impressive fashion.

After earning the starting position as a sophomore in 2006, Daniel set a school record for touchdowns in a single game (5) and finished the season with 3,527 yards and 28 touchdowns.

In 2007, Daniel became the first Missouri quarterback to lead the Tigers to a 12-win season and the first UM quarterback to be named the Big XII Offensive Player of the Year.

His senior season was even more impressive, as he completed 72.9 percent of his throws for 4,335 yards and 39 touchdowns.

He also passed his predecessor, Smith, as the Tigers' career leader in total offense with 13,256 yards.

7. Philip Rivers, NC State

Rivers has been so good as an NFL quarterback; it has overshadowed how great he was at NC State.

He was a four-year starter for the Wolfpack and finished his career as the second (now fourth) leading passer in NCAA history with 13,484 yards.

Also, his 95 touchdown throws still ranks him eighth all-time in college football.

Rivers was also a winner. NC State went 3-1 in bowl games during his career and the 6'5" 230lb quarterback was named the MVP in three of them.


6. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech

From 2006-2008, no record was too big for the crafty quarterback from Ennis, Texas to break.

Harrell ended his career with the Red Raiders as the NCAA leader in touchdown passes (134), total touchdowns (147), and was also the only quarterback in NCAA history to throw for over 5,000 yards in multiple seasons throwing for 5,111 yards in 2008.

He also holds the Texas Tech career passing yardage record with 12,707 yards.

Winning was also something Harrell could do. At the end of the 2006 season, he led Tech to the largest comeback victory (34 points) in NCAA history in the Bowl, and after outperforming Texas' Colt McCoy in a head to head match up in 2008, he led the Red Raiders to their highest national ranking in school history at No. 2.


5. Pat White, West Virginia

I hear the groans already at this selection. Well, let me dispel any argument for you.

Pat White is the single greatest running quarterback of all-time.

He set the Big East and West Virginia records for rushing yards as a freshman in 2005, with 952. He broke them in 2006, with 1,219. He broke them again in 2007, with 1,335, and ended his career as the most prolific runner in NCAA history at the quarterback position, with 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns.

And in case you're wondering, he could throw it a little bit as well. White had a career completion percentage of 64.8 percent and threw for 6,049 yards and 56 touchdowns.

Oh, by the way, White is also the only quarterback in NCAA history to win four consecutive bowl games, and was 2-0 in BCS bowls.


4. Colt McCoy, Texas about replacing a legend.

When Longhorn fans got their first look at this skinny kid from a 2A high school in West Texas they were not impressed.

All he's done since he stepped on the field as a redshirt freshman in 2006, however, is prove that you do get second chances to make first impressions.

In McCoy's four years as the starting quarterback at UT he's done the unthinkable.

He's made you wonder what all the fuss about Vince Young was about.

That's assuming one minor detail, of course. He needs to beat Alabama on Jan. 7. He's done everything else imaginable.

The 6'2" 210lb quarterback has won more games than any other quarterback in NCAA history (44).

He also owns 10 school records and three other NCAA marks: single season completion percentage (77.6), career completion percentage (70.9), and is tied for the lead in touchdown passes as a freshman (29).

If he completes the job in the BCS title game he could become one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all-time.

As Mel Kiper might say, "Write it down."

3. Matt Leinart, USC

Although Matt Leinart's NFL career has been somewhat of a disappointment at this point, there's no debate about how great he was at USC.

After replacing Carson Palmer, Leinart won 37 games as a starter for the Trojans, leading his team to an AP national title in 2003, a BCS national title in 2004, and a BCS title appearance in 2005.

He also did this while completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 10,693 yards and 99 touchdowns, which ranks him in the top two in USC history in each category.

Oh yeah, Leinart also finished in the top 10 in the Heisman race all three years; finishing sixth in 2003, winning the award in 2004, and ending his career with a third place finish in 2005.


2. Vince Young, Texas

Are you worn out yet? The University of Texas quarterback Vince Young's stats won't help.

After taking over the starting job full time in his sophomore season, Young led the Longhorns to a 12-1 record while throwing for 1,849 yards and rushing for 1,189.

He capped off the 2004 season by leading Texas to a Rose Bowl victory that saw the 6'5" Houston native rush 21 times for 192 yards and four touchdowns and go 16-28 for 180 yards and another touchdown as the 'Horns defeated Michigan 38-37.

He followed that up like only one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all-time could—a 13-0 record, a BCS national title, and a BCS title game effort that made the prior season's game look pedestrian. Try 467 total yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner on a dramatic fourth down conversion that led the 'Horns to a 41-38 victory over USC.

Young ended his career at Texas as the highest rated passer in UT history (163.9) and thanks to Colt McCoy, among others, is second all-time in completion percentage, fifth in passing yards (6,040) and fourth in touchdown passes (44.)

His 3,127 yards rushing and 37 rushing touchdowns ranks him first in UT history for quarterbacks, in both categories.


1. Tim Tebow, Florida

Sorry, Texas fans. This one's a no-brainer. The Florida Gators are now a brand like few others, thanks to Mr. Tebow.

Used primarily as a role player his freshman year in 2006, Tebow was the team's second leading rusher with 469 yards and helped the Gators to the BCS title.

It only got better from there.

Tebow won the Heisman trophy as a sophomore in 2007 after throwing for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns, and also rushing for 893 yards and 23 scores as he became the only player in NCAA history to run and throw for more than 20 touchdowns.

In 2008, Tebow completed a dream season by leading Florida to their second BCS national title in three years with a win over the No. 1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

Tebow also finished third in the Heisman race while finishing the season with 3,420 total yards and 42 touchdowns.

2009 was also a banner year for any other quarterback except yourself, when your name is Tim Tebow.

The 6'3" 240lb fullback slash signal-caller completed 65.2 percent of his throws for 2,413 yards and also ran for 859 yards. His 31 touchdowns would be a career for most people.

If not for a slip-up against Alabama in this season's SEC Championship, you're talking about a chance for three national titles in four years and easily the greatest player in any sport, on any continent, at any time.


By: Robert Denton
College Sports Fans Staff Writer

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