until Texas vs Kansas

Tuesday, September 20


Ranking the Texas QBs

Since the Horns are facing a bye week, let's take a look back down memory lane.

I think we can all agree that Vince Young is in position to become the greatest QB to ever play at Texas (especially if he either wins the Heisman Trophy or leads UT to a MNC this year or next, since I doubt he'll be leaving early).

But what other quarterbacks to start at Texas before him? For the purpose of length, and out of respect for James Street, we’ll limit the discussion to quarterbacks since 1990.

(Help me out if I am forgetting someone)

Vince Young – A once in a generation player. I expect him to probably move to WR in the pros, but for now he’s the most exciting player in college football. If (God forbid) he never took another snap at UT, he’s still got to be considered one of the all-time greats for the victories he’s led this program to. Stats (good and bad) don’t even begin to show what kind of impact he has on this team. Want proof? Imagine our team without him now. With the ball in his hands, you never think the game is over, and neither to his teammates (or the other team for that matter). His impact will be felt for years to come.

Chance Mock – A good player who probably could have been great had he not gotten lost in the shuffle at Texas. When Vince signed, the writing was on the wall as far as Mock’s role with the team. However, I will always have a special place in my heart for Chance because of his save against Texas Tech in 2003. Sure, Roy Williams was wide open, but Chance got him the ball. He was ready when we needed him.

Chris Simms – The most unfairly treated player in the history of UT football. Forget what you think about how good he was (or wasn’t at times). Chris arrived with such high expectations, only a Ron Powlus-esque two Heismans would have sufficed. Of course, Chris brought some of this on himself when he signed with Texas despite the presence of Major Applewhite, but can you blame him? Mack recruited him and Chris wanted to come to Texas. For that we should have loved him. But instead, we ripped him every chance we got. He never got the benefit of the doubt. I think biggest mistake Mack has made at Texas was not redshirting Chris in 1999. I am sure Chris wanted the chance to play, and as the #1 high school player in the country it’s likely that was a condition for wherever he signed. But things got out of control quickly here, with people taking sides. I know it split the team, too. I ran into some UT players at South Padre Island on Spring Break in March 2001. Predictably, the older player was a Major supporter, because he’d been there with Major through the tough battles in 1998 and 1999 (including two wins over Nebraska), while the younger player was a Simms guy, because he saw the potential in Chris and where he could take the team. Both had valid points. I don’t blame Chris for never beating OU. However, he does have to live forever with his performance in the 2001 Big 12 title game, which cost us a spot in the national title game against Miami in the Rose Bowl.

Major Applewhite – Possibly the most popular UT player ever. My friends named their dog Major. I watch Syracuse games now just to see Major on the sidelines. A good bet to coach in Austin one day (when Mack retires in 20 years or so). He came into the picture at the perfect time, when expectations weren’t so high that a poor performance (K-State ’99 anyone?) could be forgotten. Absolutely cemented his legacy with the comeback against Washington in the 2002 Holiday Bowl. Not the most talented player, but the kind of player everyone liked. Seriously, you cannot find anyone to say a bad word about Major. Will always be near the top of the list because he was so beloved.

Richard Walton – If not for a broken bone in his hand, he’d have been the one handing off to Ricky during the magical 1998 season. Started four games in his UT career (including UCLA ’97 aka Rout 66 in place of an injured James Brown). In case you’re wondering where he is now, check this article
. He’ll be forgotten (if he wasn’t already), but is notable for being the QB before the Applewhite/Simms era began.

James Brown – He made us feel good (‘96 Big 12 title game) and bad (too many INTs to remember). The mid-90s were such up-and-down years, but no one will ever forget Roll Left. Even though it’s pre-Mack and the win didn’t really lead to anything, that game has to be considered one of the greatest UT wins ever. His “we might win by three TDs” quote is also the stuff of legend.

Shea Morenz – Was the Golden Boy before anyone in Austin had ever heard of Chris Simms, as the #1 QB recruit in the country. He was supposed to lead us to the promise land, but it never happened. Also played baseball and left UT after being drafted by the Yankees in 1995. That was no biggie, since James Brown had already taken his job.

Peter Gardere – Best known for his 4-0 record against OU, from 1989-92. Also led Texas’ Shock the Nation Tour in 1990, which led UT to a #3 national ranking before the 1991 Cotton Bowl. (We won’t talk about how that turned out).

With that summary, here is my ranking of these eight signal-callers, based on accomplishments and legacy:

1. Vince Young
2. Major Applewhite
3. Chris Simms
4. Peter Gardere
5. James Brown
6. Chance Mock
7. Shea Morenz
8. Richard Walton

Feel free to re-rank them in a comment below if you disagree.

Travis Richmond is a regular contributor to All Things Longhorn. You can read more of Travis's thoughts on his blog here.

I agree with the list mostly, except for Simms (as I'm sure MANY readers would agree). Simms just didn't have what it takes to be a leader, and that made all the difference. He had all the football skills a kid could ask for, but you just saw boredom and indifference in his eyes, not like the excitement we see in Vince's.

The real question is, where is Colt McCoy going to rank? My guess is... no, I honestly have no idea about this kid. And has anyone noticed the ridiculous QB names? They're like cartoon characters or GI figures. Colt McCoy? Chance Mock? Major Applewhite? What's the deal?
Travis, you have far, far too much time on your hands at work.

Seeing as how this is the University of Texas, this list of QBs shows just how sad the program has been until just recently. I'll go ahead and get my obligatory "Simms Sucks" comments out of the way. He sucks. And he's proving it by turning himself into a career backup in the NFL. Big kid, huge arm, but does not have whatever it is between the ears that makes a good QB. And he is, without a doubt, the worst clutch performer in any sport I've ever seen.

I would rank James Brown #3. This is a guy that, when he had weapons around him, was a pretty good college QB. And he was one of the the heros of the 1995 OU game. The 1996 team that beat Nebraska had an amazing offense and JB's mobility really was a big factor. He was a good leader, the team respected him and he had heart. Not a ton of skill, but lots of heart. When he lost his mobility, and all of his receivers and his best offensive lineman, you saw in 1997 that he didn't have enough skill to really overcome all of those problems. But for two years he was a lot of fun to watch and he really energized the program. Remember, he's the last UT QB to win a championship of any kind and the only one to win a Big XII title. Once you get past Simms, who, because of his naturaly ability and big stats, I can't completely overlook, the rest of those guys are just chumps.

Travis I agree 100% with your list and mostly with your reasoning. Major was one of the best college QBs I ever saw and with a little better luck with injuries he would have gotten his due from everyone. He had the best touch on the deep pass and was cool in the clutch. I thought his come from behind drive against A&M his freshman year was his best.
Young's ability just makes him a freak. Add that to his competitive nature and his clutch play and leadership and you have to renk him #1.
By the way, I think Colt McCoy may be another Major. Mack says he is just like Major only faster.
Not to call out the man who gave me life, but Jim you do seem to take what Mack says as gosple. I will keep my excitement in check for McCoy until he takes a few snaps.
I would have ranked James Brown above Gardere, for a couple of reasons. One, I cant get over the Cotton Bowl in 1991. I am very glad that I did not know Wiggo then. Two, James Brown came to Texas when there was still talk about if Texas can have a black QB, and was a hero on campus, plus he seemed to have more heart.

I'd take old men like Eddie Phillips or James Street before I'd pick Chris Simms
You have to put James Brown and Peter Gardere ahead of Chris Simms.

Simms totally sucked. He was a terrible leader and terribly overrated. He didn't have the heart or guts of Vince, Major, JB, or Gardere. He was better than that cocky POS Morenz though. Simms=blows.
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It's amazing how many of you Longhorn "fans" hate on Chris Simms. Jesus Christ, you "saw the boredom and indifference in his eyes?" Are you serious?

Did you see the "boredom" when he made the coaches pop his finger back into joint so he could lead us to a touchdown against Nebraska? Did you see the "boredom" when he damn near died last year while playing with a ruptured spleen and bleeding internally in the NFL?

I covered Chris Simms as part of the media in Austin during that time. There was never a player who handled himself with more class and yet received more shit from Longhorn "fans." His teammates loved him.

You morons are quick to point out Chris' failure in the Big 12 Championship, but easily forget Major's six turnovers against Kansas State, followed by the headline "Apple Turnover" the next day. And no one speaks of Roy and BJ dropping three straight touchdown passes in the Holiday Bowl. How convenient for you.

Chris Simms was a helluva quarterback, and if his last name was Smith, you'd have a different opinion of him.

Tell me how many Big 12 Titles Major won us? Oh yeah, zero. Major was a great quarterback, too, but most of the uninformed act like you have to choose one or the other. You don't. Mack and his staff made a decision to start Chris over Major. You don't like it? Fine. Blame Mack. He made call. What was Chris supposed to do, tell the coach he didn't want to start? That, my friends, would be boredom and indifference.

If I've learned one thing about covering the Horns and knowing BOTH Chris and Major, it's this: Intelligent and knowledgeable fans completely understand Chris' contributions to the team and hold him in as high regard as about anyone to wear burnt orange. The fairweather fans and uneducated are the first to yell "Chris sucks" or "Simms blows" and then proceed to blow Major as if he won us multiple national titles. But here's a thought: They were both Longhorns. Maybe, just maybe, you could support them both.
Thank you "anonymous" Austin media member from 2000-2002 era, AKA: Kirk Bohls, a notorious Chris Simms ass-kisser, even to this day.

You can count Colt McCoy OUT of the list of top 10 best UT Longhorn QB's - especially after the poor performance he is getting ready to put forth later this afternoon vs a pissed-off OU team at the 2007 Red River Shoot Out (it will be a drive-by shoot out by the OU front 7 sacking Colt repeatdly for concussion #2 of his young collegiate football career). Look for John Chiles to have a comingout party today vs OU in the 2nd half after Mack Brown comes to his senses and benches McCoy finally! Chiles will be in the top 5 list of all-time best UT QBs when it is all said and done in 4 years - circa 2010. Face it longhorn fans, white boys just can't jump, and shuck and jive like black men do in the UT backfield.
Has anyone out there forgotten about Marty Akin? He started as a freshmen and ran the wishbone as good as any QB Texas ever had.

And James Street? Who played in the '69 "game of the century" against Arkansas and won 15-14 in Fayeteville?
Well, it is April of 2009 Xavier. What do you think of Colt now? Chiles is now a wide receiver and Colt looks every bit as good as Vince, but no National Title yet.
Ouch Xavier, I bet you wish you could take that comment back now huh??? Chiles is a talented WR, but I don't think he'll ever make this list. Though there is a valid argument that McCoy should be #1 for his entire four year body of work.
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