Ranking the best quarterbacks in University of Utah history

While it often gets overlooked because of the success of the signal callers at BYU, the University of Utah has a long and impressive list of quarterbacks over the years. In fact, they have earned plenty of recognition, including all-conference selections and All-American honors. That recognition started all the way back in 1939 when Bill Swan was all-Skyline conference first team. Cannon Parkinson (1947) and Dave Cunningham (1950) followed in Swan’s footsteps when they each earned all-Skyline first team honors. While all three clearly made great contributions to the Utes, not enough information is available to accurately rank them on this list, but they definitely deserve a mention. As do Randy Gomez and Terry Nofsinger who just missed the cut.

Here is my ranking of the best quarterbacks from the University of Utah.

It is important to note that a number of factors were taken into consideration when doing these rankings, including recognition and awards, national standings, wins and losses, bowl game appearances and stats.

Stats and honors from Sports-reference.com and UtahUtes.com

15. Mark Stevens (1983-84)

Stevens did some special things during his two years under center for the Utes even though the team was less than impressive. His most impressive season came in 1984 when he finished seventh in the nation in total touchdowns and eighth in the nation in rushing touchdowns. That season, he completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 1,889 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 452 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

For his Utah career, he finished with 3,875 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air to go along with 986 yards and 23 scores in the running game.

14. Travis Wilson (2012-current)

Wilson has had plenty of ups and downs while at Utah, but he has done enough to make this list. His best season came in 2014 when he completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,170 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions to go along with 309 yards and five scores in the running game.

To this point in his Utah career, he has completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 5,308 yards and 41 touchdowns. He also has 735 yards and 14 scores on the ground.

13. Larry Egger (1985-86)

Egger spent two seasons as the Utes’ starting signal caller under Jim Fassel. While the team had mixed success, Egger put up big numbers both seasons. His most impressive totals came in 1986 when he finished second in the nation in passing touchdowns and seventh in passing yards. That season, he completed 60.7 percent of his pass for 2,761 yards and 21 touchdowns with just nine interceptions.

For his Utah career, he completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 5,749 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also added three rushing scores.

12. Frank Dolce (1991-92)

Dolce was the starting signal caller for two seasons during the early days of the Ron McBride coaching tenour and did some very nice things. His best season came in 1992 when Dolce led the Utes to the Copper Bowl while leading the WAC in completion percentage and finishing seventh in the nation in total touchdowns. That year, he completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 2,369 yards with 14 touchdowns as well as eight rushing scores.

For his Utah career, he completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 4,813 yards and 30 touchdowns. He added 12 scores in the running game.

11. Brett Ratliff (2005-06)

Ratliff didn’t start for too long, but when he did, he was fantastic. He replaced an injured Brian Johnson late in his junior year and had some remarkable performances, including wins over BYU and Georgia Tech. During his only full year as a starter he led the Utes to an 8-5 record and another bowl win after passing for 2,796 yards and 23 touchdowns. He added 260 yards and another score on the ground.

For his Utah career, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,438 yards and 31 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions to go along with 361 yards and two scores in just 15 starts.

10. Mike Fouts (1995-96)

While he didnt throw for a ton of yards, Fouts had a great deal of success during his two seasons on the field at Utah. His most productive year came in 1996 when he finished eighth in the nation in passing efficiency rating while leading the Utes to an 8-4 record. That season, he completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,526 yards and 21 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.

For his Utah career, he completed 57 percent of his passes for 5,107 yards and 39 touchdowns to go along with two scores on the ground.

9. Gary Hertzfeldt (1961-63)

Hertzfeldt spent three years as the starter as the Utes went from the Skyline conference to the WAC. His best season came in 1963 when he was an all-conference selection after he threw for 945 yards and nine touchdowns to go along with 260 yards and two touchdowns in the running game.

For his Utah career, he completed 49.3 percent of his passes for 2,535 yards and 25 touchdowns. He added 410 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

8. Tom Dublinski (1949-1951)

Dublinski only started for one season, but that year was a great one. He led the Utes to a 7-4 record and a Skyline Conference championship. He earned unanimous all-conference selection after he was the leading passer in the Skyline and the fourth leading passer in the country. His conference-leading 1,633 yards of total offense were also good enough for fifth in the nation, according to the 1952 University of Utah media guide.

7. Don Van Galder (1971-73)

Van Galder was under center for the better part of three seasons and made some very solid contributions for the Utes. In 1972, he finished 10th in the nation in passing efficiency rating and earned all-conference honors after leading Utah to a winning record. A year later, he finished in the top six nationally in passing yards, total yards, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns. That season, he threw for 2,012 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding eight more scores on the ground.

For his Utah career, he had 4,402 yards passing and 39 touchdowns to go along with 13 rushing scores.

6. Mike McCoy (1992-94)

McCoy was the most successful quarterback coach Ron McBride ever had. McCoy has two monster seasons under center as the Utes made it to back-to-back bowl games. In 1993, he finished second in the nation in passing yards (3,860), and total yards (3,969) while finishing 10th in completion percentage. A year later, he led Utah to a 10-2 record and a No. 10 ranking in the final AP Poll while finishing in the top 10 nationally in passing efficiency rating (sixth), completion percentage (fifth), passing yards (fifth), total yards (fifth), passing touchdowns (third) and total touchdowns (third). That season, he completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 3,035 yards and 28 touchdowns.

For his Utah career, he completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 7,404 yards and 49 touchdowns.

5. Brian Johnson (2004-08)

Johnson was a three-year starter and the signal caller on one of the best teams in Utah history. His most impressive season came in 2008 when he won the MWC offensive player of the year after he led the Utes to a 13-0 record and a win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That year, he completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,972 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

For his Utah career, he completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 7,853 yards with 57 touchdowns to go along with 848 yards and 12 scores in the running game.

4. Scott Mitchell (1987-89)

The Utes didnt have a great deal of success with Mitchell under center, but most of that was because of a lackluster defense. His best season came in 1988 when Utah finished 6-5 after he led the nation in passing yards, total yards and passing touchdowns while finishing fourth in total touchdowns and ninth in passing efficiency rating. That year, he completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 4,322 yards and 29 touchdowns.

For his Utah career, he still holds the school records for passing yards (8,981) and touchdown passes (69).

3. Don Rydalch (1951-53)

Rydalch took over the quarterbacking duties from Tom Dublinski after the 1951 season and had two great years under center. Rydalch led the Utes to back-to-back Skyline Conference championships and earned all-conference honors in both seasons. In 1952, he completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 974 yards and six touchdowns. A year later, he completed 77 of 128 passes for 980 net yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to lead the nation in completion percentage at 60.9 percent and finish sixth in passing, according to the 1954 University of Utah football media guide.

2. Lee Grosscup (1957-58)

Grosscup played just two seasons at Utah, but was one of the most successful signal callers in school history. He had his best year in 1957 when he led the Utes to a 6-4 record and a Skyline Conference championship. That season, he completed 68.6 percent of his passes while leading the nation in passing yards (1,398) and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Those numbers were good enough to earn first team all-conference, All-American and finish 10th in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.

For his Utah career, he completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,226 yards and 13 touchdowns to go along with seven rushing scores.

1. Alex Smith (2002-04)

Smith played spent most of two seasons as the Utah starting quarterback and won 21 of 22 starts before he left for the NFL. His best season came in 2004 when he won MWC offensive player of the year and finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy after he led Utah to a 12-0 record. That year, he completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 2,952 yards with 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions. he also had 631 yards and 10 scores in the running game.

For his Utah career, he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 5,203 yards and 47 touchdowns with eight interceptions to go along with 1,072 yards and 15 scores on the ground.

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