I remember as a kid going over to the church on Saturday afternoons to turn on the giant NASA like satellite dish. The reason we did that was to watch BYU football. BYU was so entertaining to watch in those old WAC days. It was run and gun, high octane, offensive football that you couldn’t take your eyes off of. Although the Y always had solid receivers and really good tight ends the reason they were so exciting was because of the quarterbacks. Now we all know that the quarterback is the back bone of any successful offense and the leader of the team. With that being said I’ve decided to look back and rank the top 15 BYU quarterbacks of all time. I can’t write this list without at least mentioning who brought the system to BYU that made most of these quarterbacks so successful. I’m sure they would all agree that BYU football would be nothing without the genius of LaVell Edwards.
15. Sean Covey – Covey started 2 years is Provo and led the Cougars to 2 bowl games.
14. Brandon Doman – Doman would be higher on this list had he started more than 16 games. He won his first 14 starts and threw for 4354 yards and 35 touchdowns during his time as a Cougar.
13. Kevin Feterik – Kevin spent three years as the BYU starter and threw for more than 8000 yards and 50 touchdowns.
12. John Walsh – Walsh put up huge numbers as a Sophomore and Junior before declaring early for the NFL draft (thanks Mel Kiper). He finished his career with 66 touchdowns and almost 8400 yards.
11. Steve Sarkisian – Steve led BYU to the NCAA’s first ever 14 win season and a number 5 ranking as a Senior. He was WAC offensive Player of the Year that season and also named 2nd team All American.
10. John Beck – John threw for over 11000 yards and almost 80 touchdowns in his Cougar career. He was MWC POY as a Senior and also a 2nd team all American. Beck was responsible for one of the greatest plays in BYU history, throwing a touchdown pass to Johnny Harline with no time left to beat arch rival Utah.
9. Max Hall – Max is the all-time leader in wins by a quarterback at BYU with 32. He threw for over 11000 yards and 94 touchdowns while being named all MWC 3 straight seasons.
8. Virgil Carter – Virgil was the first great quarterback at BYU. He ranked first nationally in touchdowns and offense in 1966. He finished 11th in Heisman voting that season.
7. Gary Sheide – Sheide was 2nd nationally in passing 2 straight years and won the Sammy Baugh award as the nation’s best quarter back a Senior. He also finished 8th in the Heisman voting.
6. Gifford Nielsen – Nielsen threw for over 5800 yards in his BYU career. He was first in touchdowns and 2nd in total offense nationally as a Junior and was named 1st team All American. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994 for his efforts as a Cougar.
5. Marc Wilson – Although splitting most of his time at BYU, Wilson was still dominant. He threw for over 7600 yard and 61 touchdowns while winning the Sammy Baugh award and being named 1st team All American as a Senior.
4. Steve Young – Young was both dominant with his feet and his arm during his time at BYU. He won the Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien awards as the nation’s best quarterback. He finished 2nd in the Heisman voting and was a 1st team All American in 1983. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
3. Robbie Bosco – Bosco was the starting quarterback for BYU when they won the national championship in 1984. He finished third in both his Junior and Senior seasons in the Heisman voting and ended his career 66 touchdowns and 8400 yards.
2. Jim McMahon – Although splitting much of his time with Marc Wilson as quarterback, he broke 70 NCAA records as a Cougar. McMahon finished top 5 in the Heisman trophy voting twice. He was an All American and the winner of both the Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien awards in 1981. Jim finished his career with 9536 yards passing and 84 touchdowns. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
1. Ty Detmer – He ended his career as the all-time leading passer in NCAA history with over 15,000 yards. He also threw for 121 touchdowns and won the Davy O’Brien as the nation’s best quarterback twice. He is the only Cougar to ever win the Heisman trophy, which he did as a Junior. Detmer was a 2 time 1st team All American. For his remarkable career as a Cougar, Ty was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.