Commentary: The 25 best Beehive State FBS quarterbacks of the last 35 years

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28 2013 9:29 p.m. MDT

What defines a greatness in quarterbacking? The answer will vary.

Some coaches want a game manager while others need a play maker. One coach might want a quarterback with a strong arm and a pocket presence, while another coach may look at escape ability and speed.

The only two things that every coach can agree on is having a player under center who is a leader and a winner.

On this the first day of college football, I give you the best leaders and winners that have played the quarterback position at Utah, Utah State and BYU over the last 35 years.

Who made the list and who got cut? Take a look.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a free-lance writer by night. He is the creator and lone contributor to the blog jmoney34sports.wordpress.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com

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Yerffoegn
Maricopa, Az

Gary sneid

idablu
Idaho Falls, ID

Sorry, Bosco might be in top 10, but not top 3.....

Samwise
Salt Lake City, UT

I am pretty tired right now and should probably sleep, so there are probably other things to complain about, and I realize a list like this is highly subjective, but Bosco rated ahead of Young? Seriously. Wow. Anyway, I also have some praise for this list, that being who is in the top 4(all BYU I might add and you can't really argue with it). I guess the order of the top 5 is up for argument but you can't really argue with that as the top 4. Oh, I just noticed the top 5 are BYU. I agree!

Rational
Salt Lake City, UT

Hipple is WAY too low.
Where are Gifford and Carter, yo?
Beck above Sarkisian? Brroo...
Detmer better than Jimmie Mac? No

Y's Guy
Salt Lake City, UT

Yerffoegn
Maricopa, Az

Gary sneid

You mean Gary Sheide? Yeah, I'd rank him above a few on the list. He's the guy that pretty much started the QB tradition for BYU. Won the Sammy Baugh award (btw--no other school has more Sammy Baugh award winners than BYU) and was inducted into the BYU hall of fame.

Thidder
MAPLETON, UT

What about that Sorenson kid from SUU? He seems to be quite good.

Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY

This is a great list. The order doesn't matter as much as the list. I can understand most of the order. Thanks for the chance to reflect and remember.

GoRed
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

Alex Smith leads an undefeated team, which includes victories over four BCS teams and a Fiesta Bowl victory and he's ranked only 6th best? Smith also ends up being drafted #1 overall in the NFL draft. And Brian Johnson leads an undefeated team, which also includes victories over four BCS teams including Alabama, a team that had been ranked #1 for six weeks, in the Sugar Bowl and he's only the 9th best?

Yet, all of the BYU quarterbacks ranked above them put up big numbers against vastly inferior WAC competition in the early 1980's. The teams they beat would have lost to a lot of junior college teams. They played very few, if any, legitimate solid BCS-caliber teams. Yet they're ranked #1-5?

Nice try, BYU-friendly Deseret News sports writers.

Danish American
Payson, UT

The list is the best college football quarterbacks. College. So the list is pretty accurate.

SLCWatch
Salt Lake City, UT

I think Gifford Neilson needed to be on the list but the author limited it to 35 years. Mitchell and Brian Johnson ahead of Beck and Hall? That's just plain silly looking at the comparative stats. Looks like the author was trying to be politically correct. I remember all of these except Egger. Walsh would have been higher if he had stuck around but he got stars in his eyes about how good he was and left early. Sarkisian just didn't have enough seasons or he would have been greater too. Ratliffe was really unstoppable after that first game against BYU.

Serenity Now
Highland, UT

Generally agree with listing, but no way is Robbie Bosco ahead of Steve Young. Bosco helped team win a national championship, but was not nearly as valuable to the team as Young was to his teams. And if the team's high ranking artificially props Bosco up, why not push Alex Smith and Brian Johnson higher given the undefeated, BCS-busting teams they led?

SLCWatch
Salt Lake City, UT

Oh I wanted to mention Anthony Calvillo, of all the quarterbacks listed here he has had the most successful pro career. He is still playing in the Canadian league and although most Americans don't know much about the league his success there is legendary. All time passing QB and he just keeps on ticking. And I agree Hipple is to low for how he did in his time.

cval
Hyde Park, UT

You guys are too young to remember Hipple. Although not playing for BYU, he was really good.

Hipple and Chuckie are too low.

Doman is too high.

One True Aggie
Ogden, UT

How can you have a listing of greatest QB's in the state and leave off USU's Touchdown Tony Adams, the greatest Aggie of them all (who's jersey is actually retired) who at one time held the NCAA record for passing yards in a single game and was a Heisman candidate in 1972, or BYU's Gary Sheide or Virgil Carter, who had far better careers that Brandon Doman or Kevin Feterik could ever hope to have. That's the problem with some fishhack doing these lists. They don't consult anyone with any memory of Utah football history.

reasonableUTE
Provo, UT

Max Hall above Brian Johnson?????? really??? really?????? Max Hall was even more overrated that John Beck. Good quarterbacks that benefited greatly from BYU's offensive scheme.

Down under
Salt Lake City, UT

Makes sense that the top 5 are from BYU and 11 of the 25 are also from BYU since they are the #1 team in the state. I know the Utah fas will crow about the past three years. We get it....but one game does not make a season.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

How is byu not all the top 25? We are QBU!

TallNSkinny43
Germantown, MD

I agree that Sorensen should be on the list as well. And Chuckie is in a good spot right now in my opinion. In two years when he is done, he will be higher on the list.

joseywales
Park City, UT

Isn't QBU the "other" U? The University of Miami?
Anyway, this list is only going on stats, not overall importance to their given team. It pains me to say this as a Ute fan, but Young is 1, JimmyMac 2, Detmer 3, then Alex and Brian. It's hard to argue against the Y's prolific offensive years of the late 70's, 80's and early 90's. They did indeed have some great numbers. True, it was against 2nd rate defenses, but you play your schedule and go from there. Both the Y and the U have improved their schedules the last ten years, and Brian and Alex were part of that as was Hall. Detmer won the Heisman but was a professional bust. He couldn't throw against guys with speed, he was used to throwing against Wyoming and New Mexico who he could have 500 plus yard games against. Stats from yesterday can't really be compared to the guys who play against bigger, faster, stronger teams today. That goes for both teams.

Bluto
Sandy, UT

Based upon the silliness of this list, I have only one question...

Where is Sean Covey?

Unbiased121
dallas, TX

Amzed that people don't get the 35 year or FBS idea. Thus, no Gifford Nielson SUU "kid" etc.

As far as the list, I think it's pretty accurate. People, especially Ute fans, will naturally be inclined to put Hall lower because the guy was such a tool, but in terms of stats, you can't argue with them. For Ute QB's I generally agree. While Brian Johnson was on one of the best Ute teams, he was more of a game manager than a game changer. Their defense and running game during that year were great. Having said that, I think Alex Smith should be ahead of Wilson. He had one of the most efficient seasons in NCAA history and was a huge reason for his team's success (maybe with a little Urban help)during those years.

Bluto
Sandy, UT

@GoRed

Your Utes put up their numbers against the same WAC/MWC teams that the BYU QB's did.
In fact, BYU's QB's proved their worth against even greater OOC competition, the Penn State, Texas, Texas A&M and Miami's of the world, sprinkled in.

BYU has QB's which have won Super Bowls and been Super Bowl and NFL MVP's............U have not.
And we've all seen how your Utes have fallen into obscurity.

Get back to us when the U has produced their first National Award winner (BYU has 21) a College Hall of Famer (BYU has 7), Super Bowl and NFL MVP's and 16 Consensus All-Americans...etc. etc..

@Josey Wells

Name a Miami QB which ever won a Super Bowl?

As for Detmer, receiving a paycheck from an NFL team as a player, "For 14 Years" is hardly a bust.

For a bust....see....Brian Johnson.

If only going back to 1978, then here are the Top Twelve...

1-Ty Detmer / Jim McMahon (tie)
3-Steve Young
4-Robbie Bosco
5-Steve Sarkisian
6-John Beck
7-Eric Hipple
8-Chuckie Keaton
9-Alex Smith
10-Max Hall
11-Brain Johnson
12-John Walsh

UU32
Bountiful, UT

The list is cool. The order is messed up.

Bluto
Sandy, UT

Correction...
Wilson squeezes in there 4th, between Young and Bosco.

joseywales
Park City, UT

Bluto- I'm not the one who made up the name QBU for Miami. It's from the media. Look it up. AS for SB wins, I'm not sure there is one, I believe Jim Kelly went to the game but didn't win. I don't like Miami by the way.
True, Detmer got a check for holding a clipboard, and that's cool. I called him a bust because he didn't really ever play much or contribute. He was a fantastic college QB however and that's why I said he was top 3. Same for Brian, good in college, won the Sugar bowl against Bama, but wasn't a pro QB. Even though Mitchell has the records, and played professionally, I say both Alex and Brian are ahead of him because they both played against better competition, and won BCS bowls.
Facts are facts, and it pains me to admit, but the Y has had the better QB's hands down. The future may be better to the Utes hopefully.

Where's Stockton ???
Bowling Green, OH

No way was Boscoe better than Steve Young... or Marc Wilson for that matter...even with a National Championship. He benefitted greatly by probably having the best offensive line in BYU's history...making things so much easier for him than his predecessors. Lavell Edwards credits him as probably the best potentially that he ever coached but that he was disappointedly not as motivated to work as hard as others like Detmer, Wilson, McMahon and Young.

sky2k1
Provo, UT

I feel like keeton, smith and johnson should have been a little higher. They probably got dropped a little for not being your typical pocket passers or being in an offense that highlights the QB and puts up huge stats.

NevadaCoug
Overton, NV

I'm sorry, but Brian Johnson is ranked way too high. He's not top ten. He may not even be top 15. Yes, he was the QB on a team that went undefeated. But he was not the reason. The defense won that Sugar Bowl; not the offense. That isn't a knock on Johnson, by any means. He's a good quarterback. Just not better than 15+ other guys on that list.

eagle
Provo, UT

Leaving the SUU kid off the list was a huge oversight...

BlueHusky
Mission Viejo, CA

I'd have Steve Young and Jimmy Mac at 1 and 2, because I can't ignore their pro careers. But let's face it. Nobody put up the college numbers that Detmer did. Gotta go with that list.

As for Alex, he was an excellent spread QB. I would not downgrade him based on his pro career, as I don't downgrade Detmer.

Let's face it, any team in the country would take any one of the guys on that list.

Surf is Up
Miami, FL

I love GoRed's spin on why Alex Smith >>> that any other BYU QB just because he led his team to a BCS birth and victory. Alex played against the same conference opponents as BYU did. Yes he had a great year, but to sell the notion that he should be at the top requires rose colored glasses.

To those of you lementing that Chuckie Keeton isn't higher just remember he isn't done yet. For him to be placed much higher at this point would require a fortune teller.

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