Top 10 Quarterbacks in WVU History
In the 126 years of West Virginia football there have been many special players, most notably at the quarterback position.
The style of offense at WVU has certainly changed throughout the years and you can't help but wonder how some of those guys would fare in today's system. Plugging in a dual threat guy like Major Harris or a great pocket passer like Marc Bulger would be extremely fun to watch. Keep in mind that this list ONLY includes players who have finished their playing days at West Virginia, so Will Grier is not eligible for this list until next year.
So without further adieu let's get to it!
10. Oliver Luck (1978-81)
The bottom part of this list was hard to compile because someone is going to not be happy that player, "X" got snubbed. You just can't go wrong here at No. 10 with Oliver Luck. Luck never truly, "lit it up" in his four years in a Mountaineer uniform, but did progress each year in Morgantown and led the Mountaineers to a 26-9 Peach Bowl victory over the Florida Gators.
Luck threw for 5,765 yards and 43 TD/45 INT with a 50.9% completion rate.
Following his senior season, he was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 2nd round (44th overall) and was the Oilers backup for five seasons. Luck is more well-known at West Virginia for his time spent as the schools athletic director from 2008-14.
9. Mike Sherwood (1968-70)
Sherwood is one of the most unknown quarterbacks in West Virginia football history, but don't let that fool you. He led the Mountaineers to a 10 win season in 1969 and never had more than three losses in a season and also played a major role in winning the 1969 Peach Bowl over the South Carolina Gamecocks.
In three seasons at West Virginia, Sherwood tossed for 4,321 yards and 34 TD/25 INT and a 57.4% completion rate. He led West Virginia to a 25-7 record under Jim Carlen, making him one of the most winningest signal callers in school history.
8. Rasheed Marshall (2001-04)
Rasheed Marshall comes in at No. 8 as another dual threat quarterback for the Mountaineers. During his time in Morgantown he led the Mountaineers to three straight bowl appearances including being ranked as high as No. 6 in the country in 2004.
Marshall was known as the tone setter for the golden years of the Rich Rod era and helped the team build into what became a Big East powerhouse.
Most fans don't give the credit to Marshall that he deserves. He had a 4-2 combined record vs Pitt and Virginia Tech during his time as a starter and paved the way for the Pat White years.
Marshall threw for 5,558 career passing yards and 45 touchdowns to only 26 interceptions. He took tremendous care of the ball and part of that may have been his ability to make plays with his feet instead of forcing throws. He racked up 2,040 rushing yards throughout his career which is actually good for 17th on the all-time rushing list at West Virginia.
Marshall signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent and spent one year with the team as a wide receiver and punt/kick returner.
7. Chad Johnston (1993-96)
One quarterback that flew under the radar and many people may tend to forget about is Chad Johnston. In 1993, he sat behind Jake Kelchner and Darren Studstill as he was still developing his game. Following those guys' departure, he would be the next in line to start for the Mountaineers.
Johnston is 5th all-time at WVU in passing yards (5,954 yards) and 6th in touchdowns with 43. He was what I call a, "system quarterback." A guy that was not asked to do much, but when he did, he showed out. The offense was designed to help relieve pressure off him, but putting Johnston in a Dana Holgorsen ran offense would be something to see.
6. Skyler Howard (2014-16)
With all the great quarterbacks the Mountaineers have had, it may shock you that I have Howard here at No. 5 and to be honest, I even debated at putting him fourth. Howard may not have been the most beloved player of all time, but the one thing that I absolutely loved about him and something you could not question with him was his passion for the game.
He had a great work ethic, and was determined to prove everyone wrong that passed up on him. Boy did he ever! In just two seasons and some change as the starting quarterback, Howard threw for 7,302 yards (3rd all-time) and 60 touchdowns (2nd all-time). Howard may not have had the prototypical size, arm strength, or athletic ability, but he was a very smart quarterback and made the correct decisions more often then not.
He is one of the best stories the Mountaineers have had in some time. Howard received zero scholarship offers out of high school, walked onto Stephen F. Austin as a running back, transferred to Riverside Community College to pursue his dream as a quarterback, then transferred to West Virginia to eventually become the starter and win 10 games in 2016.
Howard was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017 by the Seattle Seahawks, but was released shortly after and is now the starting quarterback for the Obic Seagulls of the X League in Chiba, Japan.
5. Jeff Hostetler (1982-83)
Hostetler is a part of a long list of quarterbacks who transferred to West Virginia and had successful careers. In his two year stint with the Mountaineers. He threw for 4,045 yards and 24 touchdowns. Hostetler came from Penn State, where he did not see much action at all so he made his way down southwest to the hills of West Virginia where he had an 18-6 record as a starter.
In high 1983 he helped guide the Mountaineers to be ranked as high as No.4 in the country and later that season would defeat Kentucky 20-16 in the Hall of Fame Game classic.
Hostetler was a natural winner in the NFL. Not only did he post a 51-32 record as a starter, but he also won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants making him the only player on this list with a Super Bowl ring. "Hos" had remarkable numbers in his 12 NFL seasons with 16,430 yards and 94 touchdowns.
Before this past years Super Bowl, Hostetler was the only backup quarterback in NFL history to win his team the Super Bowl. This year Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles became the 2nd to do so.
4. Marc Bulger (1996-99)
Marc Bulger was a hidden gem in the 6th round of the NFL Draft when he was selected by the New Orleans Saints. Little did the Saints know the type of quarterback he would become when they waived him. Bulger also played for the Atlanta Falcons, but never saw any action with the franchise. He went on to take over the starting role with the St.Louis Rams.
It was hard for me to put Bulger this high based on he was never on a really good team while at West Virginia, but his talent was too good to put him any lower than four. He totaled 8,153 passing yards (2nd in school history) and 59 touchdowns (3rd in school history) through the air.
He had a very solid career and possibly one of the best NFL careers by any Mountaineer quarterback.
During his 10 seasons he threw for 22,814 yards and 122 touchdowns. He now works as a color analyst for AT&T SportsNet and usually does one to two West Virginia games per year.
3. Geno Smith (2009-12)
Checking in at No. 3 on the list is Geno Smith. In my opinion, you could really rank these top three quarterbacks anyway you wanted. The reason I didn't have Smith higher than three is just simply because he never had the Mountaineers in the national championship picture at the end of a season.
He did however, put up astronomical numbers in a 70-33 blowout of Clemson in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl. Smith went 32/43 for 407 yards and six touchdowns. The hype train was certainly centered around the Mountaineers following that bowl game heading into the 2012 season where the team was preparing for their inaugural season in the Big 12 conference.
In the schools first ever Big 12 conference game vs Baylor, Smith helped outscore the Baylor Bears in a typical Big 12 shootout, 70-63. Smith was on fire that day completing 45 of 51 passes (88% completion), 656 yards, 8 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Geno was the first quarterback in the Dana Holgorsen era and he set the standard pretty high with the Madden-like numbers he posted. Many fans across the state view him as the best pure passer the program has ever seen come through Morgantown and it is hard to argue with them.
Smith was drafted in the 2nd round by the New York Jets in the 2013 NFL Draft and has also spent time with the New York Giants and now L.A. Chargers.
2. Pat White (2005-08)
I know most of you are thinking, "WHAT?!", "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!", "HOW IS HE NOT No. 1?!" I totally understand your argument, but I have to slide him in this slot, which means you probably know who No. 1 is.
Pat White, who some consider as the best player in West Virginia football history and one of the top quarterbacks in college football history, was one of the most special players I have seen in my lifetime. White just simply took your breath away on nearly every play, the things he would do were just pure entertainment. He was Lamar Jackson before Lamar Jackson, but did not get the national attention that Jackson did.
To this day, it still baffles me how this guy never won the Heisman Trophy or was at least in the top three in the voting. If he did what he did at WVU at a school say like Alabama or Ohio State he would have ran away with the trophy. One thing no one can take away from him is that he is the first quarterback in college football history to have a 4-0 career record in bowl games, including two BCS victories.
White holds many school records, but the most impressive record is his NCAA record for most career rushing yards for a quarterback (4,480 yards). I won't dive too far into it because we all remember and we don't want to talk about it, but White had West Virginia one win away from a national championship appearance. Instead, the Mountaineers were Fiesta Bowl bound and beat the Oklahoma Sooners pretty soundly, 48-28.
White was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins and eventually became the starter before being knocked out in a game vs the Pittsburgh Steelers which pretty much derailed his football career. He is now the quarterbacks coach at Alcorn St.
- Major Harris (1987-89)
You can stop the run, you can stop the pass, but you can't stop the Major. Major Harris, to me, is the greatest quarterback to ever suit up in Morgantown and possibly the best player in program history. Harris was a quarterback ahead of his time, he was one of the first serious dual threat quarterbacks in college football and boy was he a dual threat. Running the ball came easy to him. He could make plays with his legs and extend plays, but let's not take away from how good of a passer he was.
In three years Harris totaled 5,173 yards through the air and 41 touchdowns. What separates Harris from the rest is he did something no other quarterback in the history of the program has done and that is to lead the team to a national championship game, which he did in 1988. During that 1988 season, he led the Mountaineers to a perfect 11-0 regular season record, which was the first undefeated regular season in school history.
Harris went down early in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl (national championship game) vs Notre Dame which may have cost the Mountaineers their first national championship. A good friend of mine and running back on that 1988 team, Eugene Napoleon told me, "We would have won that championship game with Major. No doubt. Major was good for at least three scores. Two in the air and one on the ground almost every game."
Harris finished his career with 7,334 all-purpose yards and 59 touchdowns. He was also a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist in 1988 and 1989. He was drafted in the 12th round in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Raiders, but injuries would get in the way of him having a successful NFL career. He would go on to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.