Ranking the best quarterbacks in BYU history

For the Cougars to have a special season, they need big-time play out of their quarterbacks and that is exactly what they have gotten over the years. In fact, the legacy of the quarterback position at BYU has been one of greatness. There have been first-team All-Americans, Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien Award winners and even a Heisman Trophy winner.

Expectations were for Taysom Hill to join that elite class of BYU signal callers going into the 2014 season and he was on track to do so through the first four games. During the first quarter of the season he carried the Cougars to a 4-0 record and a national ranking. He made highlight level plays game after game and thrust himself right into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Then came the Utah State game and all of that changed. Hill suffered another leg injury at the hands of the Aggies and was lost for the season. Even though his season ended prematurely for the second time in three years, he has already put himself into the conversation of the best players ever to play quarterback for the Cougars.

Here is my list of the top 15 quarterbacks in BYU history

Statistics from Sports-reference.com.

15. Brandon Doman (1998-2001)

While Doman only started 16 games for BYU, he was still a very special quarterback. He did most of his damage as a senior when he completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,542 yards and 33 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. He added 141 carries for 503 yards and eight touchdowns in the running game.

For his BYU career, he threw for 4,354 yards and 35 touchdowns to go along with 673 rushing yards and 11 scores.

14. Taysom Hill (2012-current)

Hill is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the Cougars have ever seen. Even though he missed parts of two seasons with serious knee injuries, he still has done enough to crack the list. His best season to this point came as a sophomore when he threw for 2,938 yards and 19 touchdowns while recording 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns in the running game.

In 24 games as the BYU signal caller, he has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 4,338 yards and 30 touchdowns to go along with 388 carries for 2,140 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground.

There is no doubt that he will jump up this list with a solid senior campaign.

13. Kevin Feterik (1996-99)

Feterik spent three years as the BYU starter and was a very accurate quarterback. He completed better than 60 percent of his passes in each of his three seasons under center. His best season came in 1999 when he completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 3,554 yards and 25 touchdowns for the MWC Co-Champions.

For his career with the Cougars, he completed 60.7 percent of his throws for 8,065 yards and 53 touchdowns as well as five scores in the running game.

12. John Walsh (1992-94)

Walsh’s name often slips through the cracks when talking about great BYU quarterbacks, but he did enough to earn a spot on the list. He had two tremendous seasons before he declared for the NFL draft following his junior year. His best of the two came in 1994 when he led the nation in passing yards (3,712) and passing touchdowns (29) for the 10-3 Cougars.

For his BYU career, he completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 8,390 yards and 66 touchdowns.

11. Steve Sarkisian (1995-96)

Sarkisian was under center for one of the best years in BYU history. He led the Cougars to their most wins in school history (14) as a senior while he put up huge numbers. His best season came in 1996 when he led the Nation in completion percentage (68.8) and passing efficiency rating (173.6) while throwing for 4,027 yards and 33 touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to secure the WAC offensive player of the year and the Sammy Baugh Trophy awarded to the nation’s most outstanding passer.

For his BYU career, he completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 7,464 yards and 53 touchdowns.

10. John Beck (2003-06)

Beck saw action during all four seasons at BYU and was one of the best the school had ever seen by the time he was done. His best season came in 2006 when he led the Cougars to a 11-2 record and a MWC championship. That year, he completed 69.3 percent of his passes fo 3,885 yards and 32 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He also registered six scores on the ground to earn MWC offensive player of the year.

For his BYU career, he completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 11,021 yards and 79 touchdowns.

9. Max Hall (2006-09)

Hall was a star from the moment he stepped on the field for the BYU Cougars. In fact, he won at least 10 games in each of his three seasons and finished with the most wins of any BYU signal caller in school history (32). His best statistical season came in 2008 when he completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 3967 yards and 35 touchdowns as the Cougars went 10-3.

For his BYU career, he completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 11,365 yards and 94 touchdowns as well as seven rushing scores.

8. Virgil Carter (1963-66)

While his numbers won’t blow you away, Carter was the first in a long line of great passers to play in Provo. His most impressive season came in 1966 when he led the nation in total yards (2,545) and total touchdowns (30). That year he completed 48.1 percent of his passes for 2,182 yards and 21 touchdowns while adding 363 yards and nine scores on the ground to earn WAC offensive player of the year for the second consecutive season.

For his BYU career, he completed 44.4 percent of his passes for 5,125 yards and 50 touchdowns. He also managed 1,225 yards and 18 touchdowns in the running game.

7. Gary Sheide (1973-74)

Sheide only spent two years as the starting signal caller, but that was all he needed to make his mark. While he put up spectacular numbers in 1973, he earned most of his recognition in 1974. That season, he completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 2,174 yards while leading the nation with 23 touchdown passes for the WAC champs. Those numbers were good enough to earn WAC offensive player of the year and place him eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.

For his BYU career, he completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 4,524 yards and 45 touchdowns. He also tallied eight rushing scores.

6. Gifford Nielsen (1973-77)

While his BYU career ended prematurely, Nielsen was a dominant force when he was on the field. His best statistical season came in 1976 when he led the nation in passing yards (3,401) and passing touchdowns (30). In recognition of his terrific season, he was named WAC offensive player of the year and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

For his BYU career, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 6,039 yards and 56 touchdowns. He was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

5. Marc Wilson (1975-79)

While he only started one full season at BYU, Wilson was one of the best signal callers in school history. Although he won the WAC offensive player of the year in 1977 after stepping in for an injured Gifford Nielsen, Wilson had his best year in 1979. That season, he earned consensus All-American honors, finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Sammy Baugh Trophy after he led the nation in passing yards (3,720), total yards (3,580), passing touchdowns (29) and total touchdowns (33).

For his BYU career, he completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 7,637 yards and 61 touchdowns. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

4. Steve Young (1980-83)

While not the first great running quarterback at BYU, Young was the best. While he was known for his great running skills, he was also a tremendous passer. His best season came in 1983 when finished second in the Heisman voting, won the Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh Awards and was a consensus All-American after he led the Cougars to an 11-1 season and a Holiday Bowl victory. That year, he completed 71.3 percent of his passes for 3,902 yards and 33 touchdowns to go along with 444 yards and eight scores on the ground.

For his BYU career, he completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 7,733 yards and 56 touchdowns. He added 1,084 yards and 18 scores in the running game. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

3. Robbie Bosco (1981-85)

Bosco led the Cougars to the pinnacle of the college football world in 1984 and won the Sammy Baugh Trophy along the way. That season, he completed 61.8 percent of his passes while leading the nation in passing yards (3,875), passing touchdowns (33) and total touchdowns (35) to finish third in the Heisman Trophy voting as BYU won its only National Championship in football.

For his BYU career, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 8,400 yards and 66 touchdowns.

2. Jim McMahon (1977-1981)

McMahon won just about every award he could win while at BYU outside of the Heisman Trophy (he finished third in the voting in ’81 and fifth in ’80). He won the Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh and was a consensus All-American in 1981 as a senior, but had arguably a better year as a junior. That season, he completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 4,571 yards and 47 touchdowns for the 12-1 Cougars.

For his BYU career, he completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 9,536 yards and 84 touchdowns as well as 10 rushing scores. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

1. Ty Detmer (1987-1991)

Detmer had three legendary seasons as a signal caller at BYU and is the only player in school history to win the Heisman Trophy. On top of that, he was a two-consensus All-American who won the Sammy Baugh Trophy, the Maxwell Award as the college football player of the Year and was the first two-time winner of the Davey O’Brien Award in college football history. One of his extraordinary seasons came in 1990 when he completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns for the 10-3 Cougars.

For his BYU career, he completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 15,031 yards and 121 touchdowns to go along with 14 scores on the ground. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

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