Over the last few decades, more than a handful of college football programs have tried to proclaim themselves as Quarterback U, otherwise known as the best school for producing pro quarterbacks. Even in recent years, plenty of other programs have tried to point to their prowess for developing players at football’s most important position. Naturally, we had to have a say in the debate and share our top five choices for the program that deserves to be called the all-time Quarterback U.
Miami hasn’t done much lately, but the Hurricanes still get credit for guys like Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, and Vinny Testaverde. While quarterbacks like Steve Walsh, Gino Torretta, Ken Dorsey, and Craig Erickson peaked in college, they all spent several years in the NFL. With a Hall of Famer like Kelly leading the way, the quarterback lineage at Miami remains strong.
Being able to count Tom Brady among your past quarterbacks is at least enough to put the Wolverines in the top-5. We also can’t forget that Jim Harbaugh was a good NFL quarterback for many years before becoming a coach. The likes of Chad Henne, Elvis Grbac, Todd Collins, and Brian Griese also had something to Michigan’s reputation as a haven for quarterbacks.
Right off the bat, Stanford has John Elway and Jim Plunkett, who both won two Super Bowls each and played in several more. Then there’s Andrew Luck, who was exceptional before injuries cut his career short. The Cardinal also gets credit for lesser-known quarterbacks like Frankie Albert, John Brodie, and Mike Boryla, who were all Pro Bowl quarterbacks at one point. Even guys like Bobby Garrett, Trent Edwards, and Turk Schonert deserve some credit in helping Stanford produce a long line of NFL quarterbacks.
The Trojans have done a lot of their damage lately with Carson Palmer helping usher in a new era at USC in which quarterbacks outshine running backs. Most people forget just how good Palmer was for a long time. He was followed by Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, Cody Kessler, and Mark Barkley who have all had various levels of success in the NFL. Of course, before Palmer, there was Sean Salisbury, Rodney Peele, Rob Johnson, and Todd Marinovich. Meanwhile, we’re waiting for Sam Darnold to add to the legacy.
The Boilermakers are largely overlooked in the college football world, but Purdue has always been good at sending quarterbacks to the NFL. Nowadays, Drew Brees is the most famous Purdue quarterback and could end up going down as one of the all-time best in NFL history. But we can’t forget Bob Griese, who won two Super Bowls as a starting quarterback, or Len Dawson, who won three AFL championships and was MVP of Super Bowl IV. More recently, Jim Everett, Mark Hermann, Curtis Painter, and Kyle Orton have all had fine pro careers. Of course, thanks to Brees, Griese, and Dawson, Purdue quarterbacks have started and won more NFL games than almost any other school.