I remember going over to the church on Saturday afternoons as a kid 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 Cougars always had solid receivers and really good tight ends, the reason they were so exciting was because of the quarterbacks.
We all know that the quarterback is the backbone of any successful offense and the leader of the team. With that 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.
Here is my list of the top 15 quarterbacks in BYU history.
15. Sean Covey
Covey started two years is Provo and led the Cougars to two 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 4,354 yards and 35 touchdowns during his time as a Cougar.
13. Kevin Feterik
Feterik spent three years as the BYU starter and threw for more than 8,000 yards and 50 touchdowns.
12. John Walsh
Walsh put up huge numbers as a sophomore and junior before he declared early for the NFL draft (thanks Mel Kiper). He finished his career with 66 touchdowns and nearly 8,400 yards passing.
11. Steve Sarkisian
Sarkisian led BYU to the NCAA’s first-ever 14-win season and a No. 5 ranking as a senior. He was WAC Offensive Player of the Year that season and also named second-team All-American.
10. John Beck
Beck threw for more than 11,000 yards and almost 80 touchdowns in his Cougar career. He was MWC POY as a senior and also a second-team All-American.
He 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
Hall is the all-time leader in wins by a quarterback at BYU with 32. He threw for more than 11,000 yards and 94 touchdowns while being named all MWC three straight seasons.
8. Virgil Carter
Carter was the first great passing 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 second nationally in passing two straight years and won the Sammy Baugh Award as the nation’s best quarterback as a senior. He also finished eighth in the Heisman voting.
6. Gifford Nielsen
Nielsen threw for more than 5,800 yards in his BYU career. He was first in touchdowns and second in total offense nationally as a junior and was named first-team All-American. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994 for his efforts as a Cougar.
5. Marc Wilson
Wilson had a phenomenal career with the Cougars. He threw for more than 7,600 yards and 61 touchdowns while winning the Sammy Baugh Award and being named first-team All-American as a senior.
4. Steve Young
Young was 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 second in the Heisman voting and was a first-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 the Cougars when they won the national championship in 1984. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting during both his junior and senior seasons and ended his career 66 touchdowns and 8,400 yards passing.
2. Jim McMahon
Although he split much of his time with Marc Wilson at quarterback, McMahon broke 70 NCAA records as a Cougar.
He finished in the top five 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. He finished his career with 9,536 yards passing and 84 touchdowns.
He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
1. Ty Detmer
Detmer ended his career as the all-time leading passer in NCAA history with more than 15,000 yards. He also threw for 121 touchdowns and won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback twice. He is the only Cougar to ever win the Heisman trophy, which he did as a junior.
He was also a two-time first-team All-American. For his remarkable career as a Cougar, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.