Quarterback Factory

Volumes have been written about BYU’s passing game and great quarterback tradition. BYU quarterbacks own the NCAA record books and have won the Davey O’Brien award for best quarterback in the nation four times with one runner-up and one third place finish. BYU’s quarterback factory has also produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Ty Detmer and many other Heisman Trophy candidates. Quarterbacks Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon and Steve Young have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in recent years, and several other BYU quarterbacks will likely be added to the list. In the last 20 years, two different BYU quarterbacks (more than any other school) have led their teams to NFL championships (Jim McMahon and Steve Young).

On seven different occasions, BYU quarterbacks have finished as the NCAA total offense leaders. Three of the top five career passing efficiency leaders are from BYU.In the 29 years LaVell Edwards coached at BYU, the Cougars have led the nation in passing eight times and finished in the top five 17 times. In 2006 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year quarterback John Beck was the No. 4 passer in the nation as he helped lead a resurrection of the storied BYU offense of old. The tradition continues with current quarterback Max Hall who enters was the nation's top-ranked sophomore quarterback in his first season as the starter and was the nation's No. 6 overall passer as a junior in 2008.

When Edwards was named head coach at BYU in 1972, he realized he couldn’t compete initially with the big schools for the big-time athletes. So he installed a passing attack that allowed smaller, less physical-type players to win with finesse, rather than muscle.

The offense worked, and the Cougars began passing the competition. BYU became one of the first universities to use the forward pass consistently and effectively in a time when throwing the football was a mere alternative to running the ball.

The pass has been good to BYU. Prior to Edwards, the program had won a total of 171 games and had only 16 winning seasons. Since 1972, BYU has won or tied for the WAC or MWC championship 20 times, played in 26 post-season bowl games and won the national championship in 1984.

CAREER QUARTERBACK STATISTICS                      
Player Years GMS ATT CMP INT PCT YDS TD T-OFF EFF NCAA
Virgil Carter 1964-66 30 736 327 43 .444 5,125 50 6,350 113.6 2
Gary Sheide 1973-74 20 594 358 31 .602 4,524 45 4,352 138.8  
Gifford Nielsen 1975-77 25 708 415 29 .586 5,833 55 5,388 145.2  
Marc Wilson 1977-79 32 937 535 46 .571 7,637 61 7,602 137.2 10
Jim McMahon 1978-81 36 1,056 653 34 .618 9,356 84 9,723 156.9 70
Steve Young 1980-83 31 907 592 33 .653 7,733 56 8,817 149.9 13
Robbie Bosco 1983-85 31 997 638 36 .640 8,400 66 8,073 149.4 10
Steve Lindsley 1985-86 13 290 182 18 .628 2,273 12 2,182 129.8  
Bob Jensen 1986-87 15 313 175 18 .559 2,298 13 2,525 119.8  
Sean Covey 1987-88 19 536 307 19 .573 4,275 21 4,129 130.1  
Ty Detmer 1988-91 46 1,530 958 65 .626 15,301 121 14,692 162.7 64
John Walsh 1991-94 38 976 588 35 .602 8,390 66 7,736 147.6 2
Steve Sarkisian 1995-96 25 789 528 26 .669 7,464 53 7,253 161.9 4
Keven Feterik 1996-99 39 1002 613 26 .612 8,065 53 7,697 138.9  
Brandon Doman 1998-00 32 504 313 14 .621 4,354 35 5,027 152.0  
John Beck 2003-06 43 1,418 855 34 .624 11,021 79 11,059 141.3  
Max Hall 2007-09 39 1,382 903 40 .653 11,365 94 11,562 150.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIRGIL CARTER

Provo, Utah (1964-66)

  • First in NCAA TD passes and total offense, 1966
  • Set NCAA total offense record for one game-599 (UTEP)
  • Academic All-American (2nd team), 1966
  • 11th in Heisman Trophy balloting, 1966

GARY SHIEDE

Concord, California (1973-74)

  • Eighth in Heisman Trophy balloting, 1974
  • Winner of Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1974
  • WAC Offensive Player of the Year, 1974
  • Second in NCAA in passing in 1973 and 1974

GIFFORD NIELSEN

Provo, Utah (1975-77) 

  • 1976 All-American (First Team)
  • Sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting, 1976
  • First in NCAA in TD passes, second in total offense, 1976
  • College Football Hall of Fame inductee, 1994

MARC WILSON

Seattle, Washington (1977-79) 

  • Consensus All-America, 1979
  • Third in Heisman Trophy balloting, 1979
  • Winner of Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1979
  • First in NCAA in total offense, 1979
  • Set 19 NCAA records, Senior Bowl MVP, 1979
  • First-round pick (15), Oakland Raiders, 1980
  • College Football Hall of Fame inductee, 1996

JIM MCMAHON

Roy, Utah (1978-81) 

  • Consensus All-American, 1981
  • Winner of the first Davey O'Brien Quarterback Award, 1981
  • Winner of Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1981
  • Third (1981) and Fifth (1980) in Heisman Trophy balloting
  • Set 75 NCAA records (37 passing, 38 total offense) 
  • National leader in total offense and passing, 1980 and 1981
  • NCAA season passing efficiency leader for 30+ attempts (176.9), 1980
  • First-round pick of the Chicago Bears, 1982 (16 years NFL) 
  • NFL Rookie of the Year, 1982
  • Led Chicago to the 1986 Super Bowl title - 1996 Super Bowl ring with Green Bay
  • College Football Hall of Fame inductee, 1998

STEVE YOUNG

Greenwich, Conn. (1980-83) 

  • Consensus All-American, 1983
  • Davey O'Brien Award winner, 1983
  • Winner of Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1983
  • Second in Heisman Trophy balloting, 1983
  • NCAA total offense, passing and pass efficiency leader, 1983
  • Set 13 NCAA records
  • Top USFL draft pick, 1983
  • Played for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers (14 years NFL)
  • Set NFL season passer rating record (112.8), 1994
  • Led San Francisco to the 1994 Super Bowl title (MVP)
  • NFL MVP in 1993 and 1994
  • College Football Hall of Fame inductee, 2000

ROBBIE BOSCO

Roseville, Calif. (1982-85) 

  • All-American (Second Team), 1984
  • Winner of Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1984
  • Runner-up for Davey O'Brien Trophy, 1984
  • Third in Heisman Trophy balloting, 1984 and 1985
  • Led team to 1984 National Championship
  • Set 10 NCAA records
  • Led NCAA in total offense, 1984
  • Second in NCAA passing efficiency, 1984
  • Drafted by Green Bay Packers, 1985
  • Currently a BYU Athletics Administrator 

TY DETMER

San Antonio, Texas (1988-91) 

  • Heisman Trophy winner, 1990
  • Finished ninth (1989) and third (1991) in Heisman Trophy balloting
  • Two-time Davey O'Brien Award winner, 1990 and 1991
  • Set 94 NCAA records
  • Consensus All-American, 1990 and 1991
  • Held NCAA record for career passing yards (15,031)
  • Was the career NCAA passing efficiency leader (162.7)
  • Led nation in passing (1990) and total offense (1991)
  • Played 14 seasons in the NFL

STEVE SARKISIAN

Torrance, Calif. (1995-96) 

  • All-American (Second Team) Football News, 1996
  • All-American (H.M.) UPI, 1995
  • Winner of Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1996
  • Third place Davey O'Brien Trophy voting, 1996
  • Finalist for Johnny Unitas Award, 1996
  • Set 3 NCAA records
  • First in NCAA passing efficiency (173.6), 1996
  • WAC Offensive Player of the Year, 1996
  • Currently Head Coach for the University of Washington

JOHN BECK

Mesa, Arizona (2003-06) 

  • All-American (Second Team) Sporting News, 2006
  • All-American (H.M.) Sports Illustrated, 2006
  • MWC Offensive Player of the Year, 2006
  • Finalist for the Johnny Unitas Award, 2006
  • Davey O'Brien Award semi-finalist, 2006
  • Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week
  • Second in NCAA in passing efficiency (169.05), 2006
  • Second Round 2007 NFL Draft (Miami Dolphins)
  • Currently playing for the Washington Redskins

MAX HALL

Mesa, Arizona (2007-09) 

  • Winningest starting quarterback in BYU history (32 wins)
  • Two-time Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention All-American
  • Three-time All-MWC
  • Second in BYU history in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and total offense
  • Three-straight 3,000-yard seasons
  • Tied BYU record with 7 passing TDs (UCLA, 2008) 
  • Multiple National Player of the Week honors after defeating No. 3 Oklahoma (2009)
  • Currently playing for the Arizona Cardinals