He led his stacked Florida State squad to an undefeated BCS national title in 1999 over Virginia Tech before returning to win the Heisman Trophy as well as the Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards the next season. His team lost two games over that span and one was the 2000 BCS title game against Oklahoma. He is still the ACC's all-time leader in yards per pass attempt (8.9) and was the conference’s all-time most efficient passer with a 151.15 rating until Tajh Boyd (and possibly Jameis Winston) came along.
9. AJ McCarron
Many knock McCarron as a game-manager, however, the numbers, awards and success say otherwise. He led the nation in passing efficiency (175.28) en route to his second national championship as a junior, is third all-time in SEC history with a completion rate of 66.9, fourth all-time with a 162.54 career QB rating and is Alabama’s all-time leader in every major passing category. He also won the Maxwell and Unitas Awards, went 36-4 as a starter and was one fluke play away from playing for a third consecutive national title. His 77 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions — in over 1,000 pass attempts — are among the best TD:INT ratio in college football history.
8. Drew Brees
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year led Purdue back to the Rose Bowl and finished among the top four in Heisman voting twice (1999, 2000). He is the Big Ten's all-time leader in completions, passing yards, touchdown passes, total offense (12,692) and total touchdowns (104).
7. Robert Griffin III
Right alongside Andrew Luck will always be RG3, as the duo will be forever linked in football history. Griffin III beat out the Cardinal signal-caller to win the 2011 Heisman Trophy while leading Baylor to back-to-back bowl games. He led the NCAA in passing efficiency (189.5), was a consensus All-American and won the Davey O'Brien and Manning awards to go with his stiff-armed trophy. In fact, Griffin III is just one of the few players to have meant more to their school than Luck. His impact on Baylor Bears football is immeasurable and could continue for decades. Had he been healthy for his entire career — he missed nine games in 2009 — his numbers might have been the best the BCS Era has ever seen.
6. Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M, 2012-13
When it comes to setting SEC statistical benchmarks, few players can compare to Manziel. He owns the top two total offense seasons in SEC history with 5,116 yards in his Heisman-winning 2012 campaign and 4,873 yards in his second season. His career 68.9 percent completion rate is No. 1 all-time in SEC history and his 164.05 career QB rating is second only to Tim Tebow. Texas A&M went 20-6 during his two seasons as the starter and had he played one more season in the SEC with similar numbers, he might have been considered the best to ever play the game.
5. Michael Vick
Virginia Tech, 1999-2000
Johnny Manziel might be the only redshirt freshman to ever match Vick's impact on the game in just one season. The Hokies signal-caller revolutionized the quarterback position in one year as he led Virginia Tech to its only BCS title game appearance with unprecedented foot speed and arm strength. He dropped jaws and popped eyes every step of the way, including a furious second-half comeback in the Sugar Bowl against eventual champion Florida State. He finished third and sixth in the Heisman voting both years he played, and had he stayed three full seasons under center, he could have pushed for top billing on this list simply based on his never-before-seen athleticism.
4. Andrew Luck
The best quarterback prospect in over two decades broke all kinds of rookie NFL records in his first trip through the professional ranks. This merely lends credence to his remarkable college career. Few players have ever meant more to their school's program than Luck meant to Stanford. He led the Cardinal to their first BCS bowl win and set every school passing record en route. The two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year finished second in the Heisman twice (2010, '11) and won the Unitas, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards in 2011. He is the Pac-12's all-time leader in completion percentage, yards per play (8.5) and passing efficiency (162.8). He was 27-4 in his last 31 starts and has an architecture degree from Stanford.
3. Matt Leinart
Leinart won two national titles and played for a third in three years starting at powerhouse USC under Pete Carroll. He finished in the top six of Heisman voting in all three seasons, winning the award in 2004. He also earned AP Player of the Year, Manning, Walter Camp, Unitas and consensus All-American honors during his remarkable Heisman campaign. Leinart owns the career conference record with 36 consecutive games with a touchdown pass and his 99 TD passes were a league record until Matt Barkley came along. He also is just one of three players in league history to throw for 3,000 yards in three seasons (Derek Anderson, Andrew Walter).
2. Tim Tebow
Four years of huge statistics makes him the all-time SEC leader in total yards, total touchdowns (145), rushing touchdowns and passing efficiency (170.8). He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as well as the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Awards when he set NCAA records with 55 total touchdowns and 4,181 yards of total offense (since broken). He won the SEC Player of the Year, Manning and Maxwell Awards the following year when he led Florida to its second national championship in three years. Tebow fell one game shy in 2009 of playing in — and likely winning — three national titles in four years.
1. Vince Young
Young earned Rose Bowl MVP honors following his ridiculous performance against Michigan to finish his sophomore season. It was a sign of things to come as he was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2005. He was a consensus All-American, led the Big 12 in passing efficiency, won the Davey O'Brien, Manning and Maxwell Awards while finishing second on the Heisman ballot. His smooth running skills led to an all-time Big 12 career record 6.8 yards per carry. And no one will ever forget his second Rose Bowl MVP performance against USC in the greatest game of the BCS Era, returning the national championship to Austin.
Just missed the cut:
Cam Newton, Auburn/Florida
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Russell Wilson, NC State/Wisconsin
Colt McCoy, Texas
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Pat White, West Virginia
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Philip Rivers, NC State
Josh Heupel, Oklahoma
Eli Manning, Ole Miss
Ken Dorsey, Miami
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