The best University of Utah quarterbacks in the modern era

The journey from WAC also ran to BCS buster and finally to a member of the Pac 12 has been a long and arduous one for the University of Utah football team.  The roller-coaster ride the Utes have been on over the last 35 years has included six coaches and a lot of tough seasons.

It has also included a few great teams and a number of very talented quarterbacks.  This list ranks the best of those quarterbacks; the ones who were a huge part of the Utes finding their way to the top of the national rankings and a home in one of the most prestigious conferences in the country.

The rankings are based solely on what each quarterback did while at the University of Utah and not what they did in the NFL.

10. Randy Gomez

Gomez was the starting quarterback at Utah for two years and had vastly different results in each season. In his first year as a starter, he led the Utes to a three and eight record while throwing ten touchdowns and 16 interceptions.  His second season as the Utah starter was much more impressive.  Gomez led the University of Utah to an eight win season, while leading the WAC in Touchdown passes with 19 and Passer Efficiency Rating.  During his time on the hill, he finished with 4,042 passing and 29 touchdowns.

9. Mark Stevens

Stevens spent two seasons as the Utes starting quarterback and found the end zone with his legs as often as he did with his arm. In fact, he is tied for fourth on the Utes leader board for rushing touchdowns since 1977. He wasn’t a bad passer either, amassing 3,875 yards and 23 touchdowns. In each of his two years as a starter, he finished in the top 10 nationally in total touchdowns, ending his career with 46.

8. Larry Egger

like many of the quarterbacks on this list, Egger spent two seasons as the University of Utah starter. He won eight of his first ten starts before the wheels fell off, with the Utes losing 11 of their next 13 games over two years. Even though the Utes struggled, he continued to put up huge numbers. He finished top 10 nationally in each of his two seasons in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. He ended his Utah career throwing for 5,749 yards and 39 touchdowns.

7. Frank Dolce

Dolce spent two seasons as the Utes starting quarterback and led the University of Utah to 13 victories and a trip to the copper bowl in 1992. As a senior, he completed 58.4 percent of his passes to lead the WAC. He also accounted for 22 touchdowns, which was good for second in the conference and seventh nationally. He finished his Utah career throwing for 4,813 yards and 30 touchdowns.

6. Brett Ratliff

Ratliff only started 15 games in his career at the U. after replacing an injured Brian Johnson late in the 2005 season. In his first start against arch-rival BYU, Ratliff was unstoppable in leading the Utes to a 41-34 overtime win. He threw for 240 yards and four touchdowns while adding 112 yards rushing and another score. Start number two might have been even more impressive, as Ratliff and the Utes crushed the 24th ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 38-10 in the Emerald Bowl.  On that day, he completed 30 of 41 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

He would go on to start every game his senior year and led the University of Utah to an eight and five record and another bowl win.  That season, he was second in the MWC in passing yards with 2,796 and also finished second in touchdown passes with 23.

5. Mike Fouts

Fouts spent two very successful years as the starter at Utah. As a junior, he won seven of his last nine starts after starting the season with two losses. Included in that stretch, was a 34-17 drubbing of BYU in Provo, in the last game of the season to clinch a share of the WAC title. Fouts had an even better season as a senior leading the Utes to eight wins, including seven in a row and a spot in the Copper bowl.

For his career, he threw for 5,434 yards and 39 touchdowns.

4. Mike McCoy

McCoy’s name littered the national leader board for quarterbacks during his two seasons as the Utes starter. Utah also found great team success during McCoy’s time under center, including two of the famous 34 -31 victories over the hated BYU Cougars and the Utes first bowl win in 30 years.

As a junior, he led the WAC in yards and was second in completion percentage.  His 4,146 passing yards also finished second nationally. As a senior, he finished top 10 nationally in both completion percentage and yards, while leading the country in passing touchdowns.  For his career, McCoy finished with 7,759 passing yards and 51 touchdowns.

3. Brian Johnson

Johnson was a part of the best two teams in Utah history. He was a backup to Alex Smith during the first time the Utes made a BCS game in 2004 and was the starting quarterback when Utah beat Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. His stats reflect the huge amount of success Johnson had with the Utes.

His best season came as a senior, when Johnson was the MWC Offensive Player of the Year. He finished sixth nationally in completion percentage that year.  For his career, he threw for 7,853 yards and 57 touchdowns as well as running for 848 yards and 12 scores.  Johnson’s career numbers still place him in the top seven in MWC history in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and passing touchdowns.

2. Scott Mitchell

Even though Mitchell never played on any great teams at the University of Utah, he was a great quarterback. In fact, Mitchell threw for more yards and more touchdowns than any other quarterback in Ute history, ending his career with 8,981 yards and 69 touchdowns. His best season came in 1988 when he led the nation in passing yards, total yards and passing touchdowns.

Not bad for a quarterback on a team that finished with six wins and five losses.

1. Alex Smith

Smith left his mark in just two years as the Utah starter before leaving early for the NFL. He won 21 of his 22 starts as a Ute after replacing an injured Brett Elliot in game-three of the 2003 season.

Smith led the Utes to a Mountain West Conference championship with a ten and two record that year and a victory in the Liberty Bowl, while leading the MWC in completion percentage.

While he was truly impressive as a sophomore,  what he accomplished as a junior is what Ute fans will never forget. He led the Utes to a 12 and 0 record, as the Utes became the first non-automatic qualifying school to make a BCS game. He led the MWC in just about every major statistical category for quarterbacks as well as being named 2004 MWC Offensive player of the Year.  He amassed 42 total touchdowns (32 in the air and 10 on the ground), while throwing just four interceptions. For his efforts in the Utes historic season, he finished fourth in the Heisman voting.

Smith ended his Utah career throwing for 5,203 yards and 47 touchdowns with only eight interceptions while rushing for 1,094 yards and 15 more scores.

2 thoughts on “The best University of Utah quarterbacks in the modern era

    1. Hi, the reason he isn’t on this list is because these rankings were done about seven years ago. It would probably be a good time for me to do an updated list.


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