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Top 10 Best College Football Quarterbacks of All Time Rankings

Ranking the greatest College Football Quarterbacks Ever with names such as Tim Tebow, Dan Marino, and many more

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By Fan Rankings | September 05, 2022 - 10:16 AM

The quarterback landscape over the history of College Football has been filled with a ton of star players playing the position. As you look around at the potential list of the Greatest College Quarterbacks of All-Time, it is hard to sort through exactly which players warrant a Top 10 spot.

Many of the greatest quarterbacks of All-Time have taken home a wide range of hardware from winning the Heisman Trophy to leading their respective teams to National Championships. In the end only 10 players could land on the Top 10 College Football QB All-Time rankings list.

 

At the top of that list sits a true college legend and a player that could make nearly any play happen during his playing days for the Florida Gators.

That player is Tim Tebow who was part of two of the Gators National Championship teams also took home individual accomplishments as well.

Joining Tebow on the Top College Quarterbacks list includes Matt Leinart of the USC Trojans, Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks, and Drew Brees of the Purdue Boilermakers. Here is a look at the Top 10 College Football QB All-Time rankings list.




Honorable Mention

Johnny Manziel

School: Texas A&M Aggies (2012-2013)

It is hard to look past Johnny Manziel as one of the best College Football quarterbacks of All-Time. Manziel, who helped guide his Texas A&M Aggies to back-to-back bowl games, threw for 7,820 yards over just two college football seasons while also adding 2,169 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns.

In all Manziel finished his college football career with 93 touchdowns His success on the field landed him the 2012 Heisman Trophy award, the Davey O’Brien award, the Manning Award, and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award. Nonetheless, Manziel just missed the Top 10 College Football QB All-Time rankings list.

Accolades:
  • Heisman Trophy (2012)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2012)
  • Manning Award (2012)
  • Associated Press Player of the Year (2012)
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (2012)
  • SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2012)
  • Consensus All-American (2012)
  • 2× First-team All-SEC (2012, 2013)




Ken Dorsey

School: Miami Hurricanes (1999-2002)

In the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s the Miami Hurricanes were a difficult team to slow down. Over the course of three of those seasons Ken Dorsey was under center at quarterback while leading the Hurricanes to the 2002 BCS Championship.

During that 2002 NCAA Football season, Dorsey threw for 3,369 passing yards to go along with 28 passing touchdowns.

His overall performance as a star led Dorsey to multiple accolades as one of the top quarterbacks in college football including being named first team All-American in 2002, two Quarterback of the Year awards in 2001 and 2002 as well as the Maxwell award in 2001.

Accolades:
  • First-team All-American (2002)
  • 2× Archie Griffin Award (2001, 2002)
  • 2× NCAA Quarterback of the Year (2001, 2002)
  • 2× Chic Harley Award (2001, 2002)
  • Maxwell Award (2001)
  • BCS National Championship (2001)




Top 10 College Quarterbacks

10. Robert Griffin III

School: Baylor Bears (2008-2011)

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 College Football QB All-Time rankings list is the former Baylor Bears standout quarterback Robert Griffin III.

RGIII, as many would go on to call him, was a standout quarterback over his four years in college while dominating in his last two seasons.

Over his final two seasons Griffin III threw for 7,794 yards to go along with 59 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions while bringing his college total to 10,366 passing yards and 78 passing touchdowns.

In addition, Griffin rushed for 2,254 career yards to go along with 33 rushing touchdowns while also taking home the 2011 Heisman Trophy award and All-American honors.

Accolades:
  • Heisman Trophy (2011)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2011)
  • Manning Award (2011)
  • AP Player of the Year (2011)
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (2011)
  • Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (2011)
  • Consensus All-American (2011)
  • First-team All-Big 12 (2011)
  • Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year (2008)




9. Colt Brennan

School: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (2005-2007)

How can you not slot Colt Brennan on the list of the greatest College football quarterbacks list? The former Hawaii Rainbow Warriors starting quarterback put together a three-year string of performances that can match any quarterback in college football during that stretch.

Brennan threw for at least 4,300 yards in each of his three seasons with the Warriors while also throwing for at least 35 touchdowns in each season.

Overall, the Warriors former quarterback threw for 14,193 passing yards to go along with 131 passing touchdowns and just 42 interceptions over 38 games.

Accolades:
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy (2006)
  • 2× Third-team All-American (2006, 2007)
  • 2× First-team All-WAC (2006, 2007)
  • 2× WAC Offensive Player of the Year (2006, 2007)
  • Hawaii Rainbow Warriors No. 15 retired




8. Peyton Manning

School: Tennessee Volunteers (1994-1997)

Ever since a young age Peyton Manning has been one of the best quarterbacks wherever he has been at that time.

That was the case during his four-year career with the Volunteers as he was as good as any quarterback in college football.

Nonetheless failing to win a National Championship or Heisman trophy hurt his status as the top overall quarterback in the history of College Football.

That said, Manning finished his career throwing for 11,201 total yards to go along with 89 touchdowns passes in 45 games.

Accolades:
  • Maxwell Award (1997)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (1997)
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (1997)
  • Campbell Trophy (1997)
  • SEC Player of the Year (1997)
  • Consensus All-American (1997)
  • First-team All-SEC (1997)
  • Second-team All-SEC (1996)
  • Tennessee Volunteers No. 16 retired




7. Ty Detmer

School: BYU Cougars (1988-1991)

The BYU Cougars had one of the best quarterbacks in College Football as Ty Detmer put together a string of strong performances from his sophomore season in 1989 to his senior season in 1991.

Over his four-year career Detmer threw for 15,031 passing yards to go along with 121 passing touchdowns. In 1990, Detmer would go on to throw for a career high 5,188 passing yards and 41 passing touchdowns.

His play on the field earned him multiple accolades including the Sammy Baugh Trophy, the UPI Player of the Year award, and two consensus All-American selections in 1990 and 1991.

Accolades:
  • Heisman Trophy (1990)
  • Maxwell Award (1990)
  • 2× Davey O'Brien Award (1990, 1991)
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy (1991)
  • UPI Player of the Year (1990)
  • 2× Consensus All-American (1990, 1991)
  • BYU Cougars Jersey No. 14 retired




6. Dan Marino

School: Pittsburgh Panthers (1979-1982)

Success is hard to dictate and hard to put an emphasis on what means the most, but one thing is for certain and that is Dan Marino could play football.

During his time with the Pitt Panthers, Marino would go on to lead the team to four Bowl appearances including a key win in the 1982 Sugar Bowl against a Georgia Bulldogs team ranked #7 in the country.

From 1979 to 1981, Marino would help guide the Panthers to 33 wins over 36 total games. His performance on the field landed him a First-Team All-American selection in 1981 while also positioning in the talk for the Heisman Trophy.

Accolades:
  • First-team All-American (1981)
  • Pittsburgh Panthers No. 13 retired




5. Drew Brees

School: Purdue Boilermakers (1997–2000) 

At number five on the Top 10 College Football QB All-Time rankings list is Drew Brees of the Purdue Boilermakers.

While critics were judgmental about Brees' height both at the college and NFL levels, the future star would have no issues making plays with his arm.

After taking overall as the team’s starting quarterback in 1998, the Purdue Boilermakers would go on to make three additional bowl appearances.

With Drew Brees under center leading the team to the postseason, the future second round draft pick would finish 4th in 1999 and 3rd in 2000 in the Heisman Trophy ballot.

In his three seasons as starting quarterback, Brees threw for no less than 3,668 yards and no fewer than 25 passing touchdowns while racking up a total of 11,792 passing yards and 90 passing touchdowns in his career.

Accoaldes:
  • George Halas Award (2007)
  • Maxwell Award (2000)
  • Chicago Tribune Silver Football (2000)
  • 2× Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (1998, 2000)




4. Sam Bradford

School: Oklahoma Sooners (1997-2000)

The Oklahoma Sooners have produced some of the best quarterbacks we have seen over the history of College Football. One of those quarterbacks was the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.

In that 2008 NCAA Football season, Bradford would go on to throw for 4,720 passing yards with 50 passing touchdowns and just eight interceptions while leading the Sooners to the National Championship game.

This performance followed a strong freshman season in which Bradford threw for 3,121 yards with 36 passing touchdowns. After an injury shut him down in 2009, Bradford elected to enter the NFL draft.

Accolades:
  • Heisman Trophy (2008)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2008)
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy (2008)
  • Associated Press Player of the Year (2008)
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (2008)
  • Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (2008)
  • Consensus All-American (2008)
  • First-team All-Big 12 (2008)




3. Marcus Mariota

School: Oregon Ducks (2012-2014)

Marcus Mariota joined the ranks as one of the greatest college quarterbacks with his stellar college performance from 2012 to 2014.

Over his three seasons with the Oregon Ducks, Mariota would throw for 10,796 passing yards with 105 passing touchdowns and just 14 interceptions.

In addition, his 4,454 passing yards and 42 passing touchdowns in 2014 helped earn him the 2014 Heisman Trophy award.

In addition to the Heisman, Mariota also took home the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, the Manning award, and the Maxwell award all in 2014.

Accolades:
  • Heisman Trophy (2014)
  • Maxwell Award (2014)
  • Manning Award (2014)
  • Walter Camp Award (2014)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2014)
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (2014)
  • AP College Football Player of the Year (2014)
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (2014)
  • Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (2014)
  • Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year (2012)
  • Unanimous All-American (2014)
  • 3× First-team All-Pac-12 (2012–2014)




2. Matt Leinart

School: USC Trojans (2003-2005)

The USC Trojans quarterback was one of the school’s best football players and one of the best college football players during the early 2000’s.

His performance on the field helped the Trojans to the 2004 BCS National Championship (later vacated). Nonetheless his play on the field earned Leinart a long list of accolades during his college career including the 2004 Heisman Trophy Award, the Johnny Unitas award, and two first-team All-American selections.

In three seasons, Leinart would go on to throw for 10,693 passing yards to go along with 99 passing touchdowns and just 23 interceptions.

Accolades:
  • Heisman Trophy (2004)
  • BCS national champion (vacated) (2004)[1][2]
  • 2× AP National Champion (2003, 2004)
  • Manning Award (2004)
  • Johnny Unitas Award (2005)
  • Walter Camp Award (2004)
  • 2× Archie Griffin Award (2003, 2004)
  • 2× First-team All-American (2004, 2005)
  • 2× Quarterback of the Year (2004, 2005)
  • 2× Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year (2004, 2005)
  • USC Trojans No. 11 retired




1. Tim Tebow

School: Florida Gators (2006-2009)

Tim Tebow lands at the top of the Top 10 College Football QB All-Time rankings list while finishing his career as one of the most glorified college players of All-Time.

Tebow, who would take over as the starting quarterback in 2007 would win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore after throwing for 3,286 passing yards and 32 touchdowns while also adding 895 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.

Tebow would finish his career with 9,285 passing yards, 88 passing touchdowns, 2,947 rushing yards, and 57 rushing touchdowns.

To go along with the statistics, Tebow would lead the Florida Gators to the 2008 BCS National Championship and take home two first-team All-American selections.

Accolades:
  • 2× BCS national champion (2006, 2008)
  • BCS National Championship Game MVP (2008)
  • Heisman Trophy (2007)
  • Manning Award (2008)
  • 2× Maxwell Award (2007, 2008)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2007)[1]
  • AP Player of the Year (2007)[2]
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (2007)
  • 2× First-team All-American (2007, 2008)
  • Second-team All-American (2009)
  • 2× SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2009)
  • 3× First-team All-SEC (2007–2009)
  • William V. Campbell Trophy (2009)
  • Florida Football Ring of Honor (2018)



How would you rank the greatest Quarterbacks in NCAA College Football history? Rank below to be added in the NCAA Power Rankings.

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