Over the last 50 years, the quarterback position at the University of Oklahoma has taken a seismic shift. From the I-formation to the wishbone and now to the Air Raid and dual-threat the talent is all over the place. But, be that as it may, the Sooners have a solid argument for Quarterback U. All top 10 lists are subject to interpretation based on the era and who was able to see these players in action. Conference and national championships, statistics, games won versus lost, and what these players meant to their collective teams were all part of the consideration. Now, let’s look at the top 10 quarterbacks in Oklahoma football history.
10. Cale Gundy
Gundy gets us started at number 10 on this list. He is credited with bridging the gap from the running quarterback era to the passing quarterbacks that we know now. He was a three-year starter for Oklahoma in 1991, 1992, and 1993. 1993 was his best season as he set personal bests in touchdown passes (17), passing yards (2,311), and completion percentage. (59.1) Gundy still ranks sixth all-time in passing yardage in school history with 6,686.
9. J.C. Watts
Watts was in the middle of the wishbone era for Oklahoma. Over his career, he ran for 34 touchdown scores while tossing an additional eight. But, he helped lead Oklahoma to back-to-back Orange Bowl victories over Florida State in 1980 and 1981. Even though he was not a tremendous passer. he made up for it with over 1,300 yards rushing in his career.
8. Landry Jones
Many will challenge the fact that the school’s all-time leading passer is ranked eighth. But, first, let’s review his accomplishments. On a positive note, he passed for 16,646 yards which are more than 4,000 yards more than number two on the list. However, his interception total and passing efficiency rating are lower than many of the teammates of his era. Jones did lead the Sooners to an exciting comeback victory over Nebraska in the 2010 Big 12 Championship Game.
7. Josh Heupel
Heupel is credited with leading Oklahoma to their only national championship in the last 20 years. He ushered in the new Air Raid offense for the Sooners. Heupel is fifth in passing yards in program history with 7,456 yards in just two seasons in Norman. In 2000, Heupel led Oklahoma through perhaps the toughest three-game stretch in Sooner history with victories over Texas, Kansas State, and Nebraska. Even though the relationship between Heupel and the school has soured, he is still remembered kindly for delivering a championship to Oklahoma.
Holieway became the first true freshman in NCAA history to lead his team to a national championship in 1986 with a victory over Penn State. Unfortunately, his career wasn’t as good as it could have been as he struggled with injuries for the rest of his Sooner tenure. However, he still has the most rushing yards (2,713) by a quarterback for his career in program history. Holieway accounted for 54 total touchdowns in his Sooner career.
5. Sam Bradford
Bradford enters the top half of our rankings sitting at number five in the best quarterbacks in Oklahoma football history. Much like Holieway, many wonder what might have been without injuries. However, he led Oklahoma to back-to-back Big 12 championships and a berth in the national championship game. He ranks third in program history with 8,403 yards and threw for 88 touchdown passes. Bradford also won the Heisman Trophy after the 2008 season and was the number one selection in the 2010 NFL draft.
4. Jason White
The biggest challenge in this list was determining how to differentiate Bradford and White. Ultimately, we decided to go with White at number four due to his back-to-back national championship appearances. From a statistical perspective, White ranks fourth in total yards with 7,922 and 81 touchdowns. His statistics might have been more impressive if he didn’t have the injuries and share the backfield with Adrian Peterson. But, White was critical in getting the Sooners back into the championship game after a two-year absence.
3. Kyler Murray
Murray might have had the most impressive single-season as a starter in Sooner football history. In 2018, Murray threw for 4,361 yards with 42 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. That was enough for a Heisman Trophy winning season as well as the number one pick in the NFL draft.
Mayfield may the most polarizing figure in Oklahoma football history. His brash confidence permeated through his team and made him one of the best leaders in the game. On the field, he ranks second with passing yards with 12,292 and 119 touchdown passes. He led the Sooners to two playoff experiences in his time in Norman as well as a Heisman Trophy. The National Championship is the only criteria that keep him from being a clear-cut number one on this list.
1. Steve Davis
As we conclude our best quarterbacks in Oklahoma football history top 10, you won’t find Davis near the top of the passing rankings at the University of Oklahoma, but you can’t discount his value. All he did was go 32-1-1 as a starter and lead the Sooners to back-to-back National Championships in 1974 and 1975. Davis accounted for 55 total touchdowns in his Oklahoma career with over 4,100 yards from scrimmage. Taking all of that into consideration, Davis takes the top spot as the best quarterback in Sooner football history.