Which Sooners Quarterbacks Were Among the Best of the 2000s?

Earlier this week, ESPN released their updated rankings of the Top 80 College Quarterbacks of the 2000s and six Oklahoma Sooners made the list! Sam Bradford, Jalen Hurts, Landry Jones, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jason White all appeared on the list and one was selected as the best quarterback of the 2000s. Here are some key stats, accolades, and facts about all six of these Oklahoma legends.

Oklahoma Quarterbacks Among ESPN’s Top 80 Since 2000

43. Landry Jones (2008-2012)

Career stats: 16,646 passing yards, 63.6% completion percentage, 123 passing touchdowns, 141.5 passing efficiency rating

Career accolades: 2009 Sun Bowl champion, 2010 Sammy Baugh Trophy, 2010 Fiesta Bowl champion, 2011 Insight Bowl champion, 3-1 Red River Rivalry record, 3-1 Bedlam record

Landry Jones played four seasons for the Sooners, finishing with a 31-9 record as the starting quarterback, and was ranked 43rd on this list. He took over for an injured Sam Bradford in 2009 and helped lead Oklahoma to an 8-5 record and a Sun Bowl win. In 2010, he had the best statistical season of his career, finishing with 4,718 passing yards and 38 touchdowns. OU finished 12-2 and routed UConn in the Fiesta Bowl for its first BCS bowl win since 2002.

Landry led the Sooners to 10-3 records in both 2011 and 2012 and helped the team win the Insight Bowl in his junior season. He still holds Oklahoma records for most passing yards and passing touchdowns in a career and was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

36. Jason White (1998-2004)

Career stats: 7,922 passing yards, 63.3% completion percentage, 81 passing touchdowns, 152.7 passing efficiency rating

Career accolades: 2000 BCS national champion, 2003 Heisman Trophy, 2004 Maxwell Award, 2004 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, 2003 Unanimous All-American, 2003 and 2004 Davey O’Brien Award, 2003 and 2004 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, 2-0 Bedlam record, 3-0 Red River Rivalry record

Jason White, a native Oklahoman, checked in at number 36 on this list and is one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Oklahoma history. He was a backup in 1999, his freshman year, and he redshirted on the 2000 Oklahoma BCS championship team. He injured his ACL in both 2001 and 2002, but he returned in 2003 and won the Heisman Trophy (and quite a few other awards!) Playing entirely out of shotgun formation, he put up 3,846 passing yards and 40 touchdowns on the season but the Sooners lost the BCS championship to LSU.

As a fifth-year senior in 2004, White had another phenomenal season and finished third in the Heisman voting, just behind his teammate and runner-up Adrian Peterson. He also led the Sooners to their second-straight BCS title game but lost to USC. His ACL injuries scared NFL teams away from drafting him but White ranks fourth in both career passing yards and touchdowns for the University of Oklahoma.

27. Jalen Hurts (2019)

Career stats (between both Oklahoma and Alabama): 9,477 passing yards, 65.1% completion percentage, 80 passing touchdowns, 162.6 passing efficiency rating

Career accolades: 2016 First-team All-SEC, 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year, 2017 CFP National Champion, 2019 First-team All-Big 12, 2019 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, 1-0 Bedlam record, 1-0 Red River Rivalry record

At number 27 on the list was Jalen Hurts who, before transferring to Oklahoma, had a historic freshman season at Alabama in which he helped the Tide advance to the CFP title game against Clemson, which they lost. In 2017, Alabama made it back to the championship game, but Hurts was benched for freshman Tua Tagovailoa in that game, who helped ‘Bama earn a come-from-behind victory against Georgia.

In 2018, Hurts was the backup to Tagovailoa but entered the SEC Championship Game when Tagovailoa was injured. Hurts led the Tide to a win in that game, helping his team make it back to the CFP. He transferred to Oklahoma in 2019 for his senior season and put up a record-breaking 508 total yards in his first game.

He ended the season with 3,851 passing yards and 32 touchdowns in addition to 1,298 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns and finished second in the Heisman voting. He also helped lead the Sooners to a College Football Playoff berth but they lost in the first round. Hurts was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the draft and led the team to Super Bowl LVII.

15. Sam Bradford (2006-2009)

Career stats: 8,403 passing yards, 67.6% completion percentage, 88 passing touchdowns, 175.6 passing efficiency rating

Career accolades: 2008 Heisman Trophy, 2008 First-team All-American, 2008 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, 2008 Davey O’Brien Award, 2008 Sammy Baugh Trophy, 2-0 Bedlam record, 1-1 Red River Rivalry record

Sam Bradford, who hails from Oklahoma City, was 15th on the list. He redshirted during his freshman year in 2006 and won the starting job the following year in 2007. He helped lead the Sooners to a Big 12 Championship over Missouri but lost in the Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia.

In 2008, Bradford led a record-setting offense and helped OU win another Big 12 Championship. He passed for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns on the way to winning the Heisman Trophy. The 12-1 Sooners played Florida in the BCS Championship but fell to the Florida Gators. In 2009, Bradford struggled with shoulder injuries and only played in three games before having season-ending surgery. He currently ranks third in OU history in both passing yards and touchdowns. He was selected number one overall by the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 NFL Draft.

7. Kyler Murray (2016-2018)

Career stats (at Texas A&M and Oklahoma): 5,406 passing yards, 67.4% completion percentage, 50 passing touchdowns, 181.3 passing efficiency rating

Career accolades: 2018 Heisman Trophy, 2018 First-team All-American, 2018 First-team All-Big 12, 2018 Davey O’Brien Award, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, 1-0 Bedlam record, 1-1 Red River Rivalry record

The diminutive Kyler Murray made it to seventh place on ESPN’s list. He spent one year at Texas A&M before transferring to OU where he sat out a year due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. In 2017, he was the backup to the last Sooner to make this list (I’ll talk about him soon) but it was finally his time to shine in 2018.

Murray was electric in his only year as a starter in Norman, finishing with 4,361 passing yards and 42 touchdowns and 1,001 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He won the Heisman Trophy on an 11-2 Oklahoma team that beat Texas twice, won the Big 12 Championship, and made it to the College Football Playoff before losing to Alabama. Murray was selected ninth overall by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft, but elected to play football and was selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

1. Baker Mayfield (2015-2017)

Career stats (at Texas Tech and Oklahoma): 14,607 passing yards, 68.5% completion percentage, 131 passing touchdowns, 175.4 passing efficiency rating

Career accolades: 2013 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, 2015 and 2016 Burlsworth Trophy, 2015 First-team All-American, 2017 Unanimous All-American, 2017 Heisman Trophy, 2017 Walter Camp Award, 2017 Davey O’Brien Award, 2015 and 2017 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, 2015-2017 First-team All-Big 12, 3-0 Bedlam record, 2-1 Red River Rivalry record

It’s hard to find a quarterback who played with more swagger or fire than Baker Mayfield, who topped ESPN’s list of the best collegiate signal callers of the 2000s. More than that, it’s hard to find a more decorated quarterback in all of college football history. Mayfield began his career at Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma, where he was a walk-on, and sitting out the 2014 season.

He won the starting job in 2015 and led the Sooners to an 11-2 record and a matchup against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The following year, Mayfield continued his dominance, passing for 40 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards on the way to another 11-2 record. He threw for 545 yards and seven touchdowns in an epic 66-59 victory over Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech. Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook were both finalists for the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season. Oklahoma also won the Sugar Bowl over Auburn and Mayfield was named MVP of the game.

In 2017, Mayfield put together the best statistical season of his career, passing for 43 touchdowns and 4,627 yards, rushing for five touchdowns, and even catching a touchdown on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. (Mayfield was and is the only walk-on to ever win the award.) In Week 2, Oklahoma played number two Ohio State and beat them in Columbus. After the game, Mayfield went viral for planting an OU flag at midfield of the Buckeyes’ field. Later in the season, he led the team to a victory over TCU in the Big 12 Championship game and helped the Sooners clinch another CFP berth.

In the Rose Bowl, Oklahoma and Georgia played one of the best CFP games ever, which resulted in an overtime win for Georgia. 2017 was truly a magical season for Mayfield and cemented his name as one of the best college quarterbacks ever. He currently ranks second in Oklahoma in career passing yards (12,292) and touchdowns (119). Mayfield was selected first overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.


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