Back 20 for 20: Top SEC QBs

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20 for 20: Top SEC QBs

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Ranking the top 20 SEC QBs of the last 20 years.

Compiling this list was both an enjoyable and terrible experience. Reflecting on the careers of some of the best players in college football history was special; trying to rank-and-file all of that greatness, while leaving even more iconic names off the list, was quite difficult. Honestly, starting at the top with Joe Burrow and Cam Newton, I almost gave up.

With that lack of conviction explained, let me offer some further clarification. As my former colleague Jim Johnson once helped me understand, I have long been one who views "best" and "greatest" as somewhat different distinctions. In specifically leaving both words out of the title, I am, here, offering a mixed hybrid of both. Consider this a collection of visceral impressions, statistical achievements, situational contexts and peak performances. 

Top 20 SEC QBs of the Last 20 Years
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
Nearly every major passing record belongs to "big game Burrow", including a new national passer rating mark of 201.96 following his 60 passing touchdowns on 76% completions.

2. Cam Newton, Auburn
Newton went undefeated and won the Heisman Trophy in leading the Tigers to the 2010 national championship, scoring 50 total touchdowns in his perfect season along the way.

3. Tim Tebow, Florida
An astonishing 145 total touchdowns are among the milestones on a career resume that makes Tebow, with two national championships, one of the greatest college players ever.

4. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The walk-off throw to DeVonta Smith in the College Football Playoff Final Tagovailoa's freshman year is the stuff of legends, as was his 76-to-9 TD-to-INT ratio from 2018-2019.

5. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
"Johnny Football" captivated college football with his highlights, often making the miraculous happen en route to becoming the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever.

6. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
McCarron was a model of consistency, leading the nation with a passer rating mark of 175.28 in 2012, winning 36 games and two national championships in his three years as starter.

7. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Prescott threw 70 touhdown passes, ran for 41 more and even had three touchdown catches in his career, helping the Bulldogs debut atop the first-ever College Football Playoff poll.

8. Eli Manning, Ole Miss
Adding to the family tradition of elite quarterback play, Manning, in three seasons as starter, finished with nearly 10,000 yards passing and 81 passing touchdowns.

9. Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Though he obviously finished his career at Oklahoma, Hurts helped the Crimson Tide to three consecutive College Football Playoff appearances, and a national title, scoring 71 times

10. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Still the SEC's all-time leading passer, Murray compiled simply staggering career numbers through the air with career totals of 13,166 yards and 121 touchdowns. .

11. Chris Leak, Florida
While most remember Tim Tebow, it was Leak who led Florida to a national title in 2006, earning Offensive MVP honors in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.

12. Rex Grossman, Florida
The Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2001 and SEC Player of the Year, Grossman finished his career with a passer rating of 146.77, then the third-best total in league history.

13. David Greene, Georgia
Greene was Mr. Clutch for Mark Richt's Bulldogs, with iconic throws on the road against the likes of Auburn and Tennessee, leading Georgia to the SEC Championship in 2002.

14. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw went an impressive 27-5 as a starter for the Gamecocks, won three New Year's Day bowl games and, as a senior, threw 24 touchdown passes with just one interception.

15. Andre Woodson, Kentucky
Woodson was elite in 2006 and 2007, throwing for 3,515 yards and 31 touchdown passes and 3,709 yards and 40 touchdown passes his junior and season years.  

16. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
Leading the SEC in passing yards per game in both 2015 and 2016, Kelly starred in the Rebels' win at top-ranked Alabama as a junior, scoring 41 total touchdowns that season.

17. Drew Lock, Missouri
Breaking records left and right in 2017, Lock compiled 3,964 passing yards and a then all-time SEC mark of 44 passing touchdowns, also never losing as an upperclassman in November.

18. Jason Campbell, Auburn
Leading the Tigers to an undefeated season in 2004, Campbell completed nearly 70% of his passes and averaged ten yards per pass attempt that fall.

19. Greg McElroy, Alabama
McElroy's two upperclassman seasons in Tuscaloosa, winning it all as a junior, resulted in him throwing 37 touchdown passes compared to just nine interceptions.

20. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Two times during his career, the Michigan-transfer led the SEC in both passing yards and passing touchdowns, topping out at 3,869 yards and 32 scores in 2010.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports