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The Best Quarterback From Every SEC School

SEC Quarterbacks
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Southeastern Conference has arguably the most decorated history of quarterbacks of any conference in college football. Several SEC quarterbacks have won Heisman Trophies, national championships, NFL MVPs and Super Bowl rings, and this list is the best of the best from every SEC school. Texas and Oklahoma were left off this list since neither team has played a game as a member of the SEC.

Alabama: AJ McCarron

Call McCarron a game manager if you want, but he's the winningest quarterback in SEC history for reasons other than just his teammates and coach. McCarron has three national championships on his resume, including being the first quarterback to win back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. 

McCarron was named first-team All-American in 2013 and finished second in the Heisman voting. McCarron's 77-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio is mind-boggling. He once went 291 attempts without an interception. McCarron didn't have to carry his team, but he was the quarterback when Alabama’s dynasty was at its apex. That's special.

Arkansas: Ryan Mallett

After spending the 2007 season at Michigan, Mallett transferred to Arkansas, where he became the top quarterback in program history. In 2009, Mallett set a single-season program record in passing yards, 3,869, and threw 30 touchdown passes. In 2010, Mallett threw for 3,624 yards and a program single-season record 32 touchdowns as Arkansas went 10-3 and earned a trip to the Sugar Bowl. 

He took home second-team All-SEC honors in each of those seasons. Mallet would go on to be drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent parts of six seasons in the NFL split between New England, the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, Mallet died on June 27, 2023 in an apparent drowning at a Florida beach at the age of 35.

Auburn: Cam Newton

Newton won’t just go down as the best quarterback in Auburn history, but perhaps the best player the program has ever seen. Newton spent his first two college seasons backing up Tim Tebow at Florida and then sat out the 2009 season upon arrival at Auburn. He made the most of his lone season as the Tigers starting quarterback in 2010.

The dual-threat signal-caller threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,473 yards and had 20 rushing touchdowns. He would win the Heisman and beat Oregon in the BCS National Championship game, finishing the year a perfect 14-0. He was selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and would make three Pro Bowls and lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2015, winning NFL MVP that same year.

Florida: Tim Tebow

It’s hard to find a more accomplished player to play college football than former Florida Gators quarterback. Tebow helped the Gators take home two national championships in 2006 and 2008, won the Heisman in 2007, took home first-team All-American honors in 2007 and 2008, and earned first-team All-SEC honors from 2007-2009. 

In four seasons, he threw for 9,285 yards for 88 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions while adding 2,947 yards and an incredible 57 rushing touchdowns. He ranks fourth in program history in passing yards. He leads both Florida and the SEC in career rushing touchdowns and owns the single-season rushing touchdown record with 23. There is no one like Tebow in the Gators storied history and it will be hard for anyone to ever knock him from the top spot of Florida’s quarterback rankings.

Georgia: Aaron Murray

While not the flashiest to play the game, no quarterback to play under center for the Georgia Bulldogs had a career like Murray. In four seasons as the starting quarterback, Murray threw for an SEC record 13,166 yards and 121 touchdowns. 

Murray earned freshman All-American honors in 2010, All-SEC second-team honors in 2011 and All-SEC third-team in 2012, including back-to-back SEC title game appearances in 2011 and 2012.

Kentucky: Jared Lorenzen

Nicknamed "Hefty Lefty," the four-year starter put Kentucky on his back and still owns SEC records for passing attempts in a season (559) and career (1,514). 

Lorenzen still ranks in the top 10 in SEC history for total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Sadly, the Super Bowl XLII champion with the New York Giants died of heart and kidney problems at age 38.

LSU: Joe Burrow

While it may feel like recency bias, Burrow is the best quarterback to ever play for LSU. Burrow threw for 8,565 yards, putting him in second in program history. His 76 career touchdowns are a program record. Burrow will go down in college football lore for his Heisman-winning 2019 season that saw him throw a single-season FBS record 60 touchdowns. 

He threw for 5,671 yards and led the Tigers to a 15-0 record that ended in a victory over Clemson in the national title game. In the Tigers’ 2019 College Football Playoff victory over Oklahoma, Burrow threw for 493 yards and an LSU single-game record 7 touchdowns, proving no stage was too large. Burrow was drafted with the first overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft by his hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and already has a Super Bowl appearance.

Mississippi State: Dak Prescott

Rayne Dakota Prescott, or Dak as he is usually called, had a phenomenal four-year career at Mississippi State, setting several school records and earning multiple accolades for his passing and rushing abilities. Prescott took over as the Bulldogs' full-time starting quarterback in 2014 and led the team to a 9-0 start. The team spent three weeks as the nation’s No. 1 team before being knocked off by Alabama.

They’d go on to finish 10-3 with a loss to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Prescott earned first-team All-SEC honors after throwing for 3,449 yards with 27 touchdowns while adding 986 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. As a senior in 2015, Prescott again earned first-team All-SEC honors as he threw for 3,793 yards and 29 touchdowns with 588 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. At the time of his graduation, Prescott led the Bulldogs program history in both passing yards (9,376) and touchdowns (70). He still owns the single-season record in passing yards (3,793). He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and entering his 10th season as Dallas’ starting quarterback.

Missouri: Chase Daniel

While Daniel is well known as a backup quarterback in the NFL, many forget he put together a historic college career that earned him the title of the best signal-caller in Missouri program history. He played for Missouri from 2005-2008 and set numerous school records, leading the team to consecutive Big 12 Conference Championship Game appearances in 2007 and 2008. 

Daniel leads the Tigers’ program history in passing yards (12,515) and passing touchdowns (101). He ranks first and second on the school’s single-season passing touchdown record list with 4,335 yards in 2008 and 4,306 in 2007. He went undrafted in 2009 but earned a Super Bowl ring as a rookie backup with the New Orleans Saints and served as a backup for the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

Ole Miss: Eli Manning

Manning, the son of former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning and younger brother of former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (more on him later), is widely regarded as the greatest quarterback in Rebels history. He spent four seasons at Ole Miss and holds the school’s all-time passing record (10,119) and passing touchdown record (84). Manning led the Rebels to two bowl victories, including a 31-28 Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State in 2003, when they went 10-3 and won a share of the SEC West division title. 

Manning was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, a second-team All-American and a first-team All-SEC honoree in 2003. During that season, he also broke the program’s all-time single-season touchdown record with 31. He was drafted with the first overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers but was soon traded to the Giants. Manning guided the Giants to two Super Bowl championships, winning the MVP of both games, and was named a pro bowler four times.

South Carolina: Connor Shaw

Even though he wasn’t nearly as decorated from an individual or national award perspective as most of the quarterbacks on this list, Shaw left a lasting legacy that won’t soon be forgotten at South Carolina, a once mediocre program where he is now the school’s all-time winningest quarterback. 

Shaw led the Gamecocks to a program-record three consecutive 11-win seasons from 2011-2013, putting his career-winning percentage of .843 inside the top 10 winningest SEC quarterbacks category. He holds South Carolina records for career touchdowns (74), rushing yards by a quarterback (1,683) and career completion percentage (65.5). On the heels of his third consecutive bowl victory following a TD-to-INT ratio of 24-to-1 his senior season, Shaw was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns in 2014 and eventually started the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens. 

Tennessee: Peyton Manning

Manning is not only the best quarterback in Tennessee history, but he’s probably the best player ever to suit up on Rocky Top. Manning is Tennessee’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,201) and touchdown passes (89). In 1997, Manning led the Vols to the SEC title after defeating Auburn in the championship game, but would ultimately fall to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. 

He set the program’s single-season passing yards record (3,819) and touchdown pass record (32) during that same year and also earned consensus All-American honors (1997). His number No. 16 was later retired by Tennessee. He was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He went on to win five MVP Awards, earned 14 trips to the Pro Bowl and won two Super Bowls, one coming as a Colt and the other with the Denver Broncos.

Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel

It takes some outstanding play to earn the nickname “Johnny Football” and that’s exactly what Manziel did while at Texas A&M. In just two seasons at A&M, Manziel threw for 7,820 yards and 32 touchdowns, ranking second in program history in both categories. Manziel is best known for his historic 2012 season when he threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also added 1,410 rushing yards and a single-season record 21 rushing touchdowns. 

As a result, the Aggies posted an 11-2 season capped off with a Cotton Bowl victory. During that season, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman, won SEC Offensive Player of the Year, and earned consensus All-American and first-team All-SEC honors. In 2013, Manziel again earned first-team All-SEC honors as he threw for a single-season program record 4,414 yards and 37 touchdowns while adding 759 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. The Browns drafted him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but bad play on the field and terrible decision-making off the field ended Manziel’s career after just two seasons.

Vanderbilt: Jay Cutler

Cutler gets his fair share of criticism for his up-and-down NFL career, but at Vanderbilt, he established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC despite never making a bowl game appearance. In four seasons at Vanderbilt, Cutler threw for 8,697 yards and 59 touchdowns, which ranks second in program history. 

SEC Quarterbacks
© John Partipilo/The Tennessean/USA TODAY NETWORK

He also added 1,256 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. As a senior in 2005, Cutler earned first-team All-SEC honors after throwing for 3,073 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Broncos and spent 12 seasons in the NFL split between Denver, the Bears and Miami Dolphins.


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