Back to school or going pro? College football QBs
These underclassmen quarterbacks, listed alphabetically, were considered to be at the top of their draft classes before they decided to return to college to complete their eligibility. For some, that was smart. For others, eh, not so much.
By Mike Rose
TROY AIKMAN, UCLA
After leading UCLA to a 10-2 record as a junior, Aikman returned for his senior year and again helped the Bruins to a 10-2 record in 1988. Aikman won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
NFL Draft: Aikman was the No. 1 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys. Aikman enjoyed a Hall of Fame career in Dallas, helping the Cowboys win three Super Bowls.
MATT BARKLEY, USC
Barkley led USC to a 10-2 record in 2011 but no bowl bid because of sanctions levied against the school for past violations. He garnered some late-season Heisman consideration as well by throwing 39 touchdowns on the year.
NFL Draft: Barkley had risen to top-10 pick consideration in 2012.
COLT BRENNAN, Hawaii
Brennan put up huge passing numbers in his three years as Hawaii’s starter. In 2006, he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Brennan broke the major college record for career TD passes in 2007. He also helped lead Hawaii to a 12-0 regular season and appearance in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia. His college career ended badly with three interceptions in a 41-10 loss.
NFL Draft: Brennan was drafted in the sixth round by the Washington Redskins in 2008. The Redskins traded him in 2010 to Baltimore and was cut eventually by the Ravens and then the Oakland Raiders. Brennan was involved in a serious car accident in November and is currently out of football.
TY DETMER, Brigham Young
Detmer had one of the great collegiate careers in history. He won the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1990, passing for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns, and followed that up with 4,031 yards and 35 TDs as a senior. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
NFL Draft: Due to his size, Detmer wasn’t viewed as a top-flight pro prospect and was drafted in the ninth round of the 1992 draft by the Green Bay Packers. He had a long pro career, playing 14 years for six teams, mostly as backup.
MATT LEINART, USC
Leinart led USC to the AP national title as a sophomore, finishing sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. As a junior in 2004, Leinart won the Heisman and led the Trojans to the BCS national title with a 55-19 win over Oklahoma. Leinart, however, didn’t jump to the NFL and returned for his senior season. USC lost in the memorable national title game against Vince Young and Texas that season. Leinart finished third in the Heisman voting as a senior.
NFL Draft: Rather than go No. 1 in the 2005 NFL draft, Leinart was drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. He spent most of the time backing up Kurt Warner before being released in 2010 and catching on as backup for Houston.
ANDREW LUCK, Stanford
Just days after leading Stanford to a 12-1 record in 2010 and Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech, Luck announced that he would return for his redshirt junior season. Luck threw for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2010, and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Auburn’s Cam Newton. In 2011, Luck led Stanford to a 10-2 record and again finished second in the Heisman voting.
NFL Draft: Luck was considered the No. 1 quarterback and a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Same can be said for the 2012 draft.
PEYTON MANNING, Tennessee
Manning was the projected No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, but returned for his senior season in 1997. Tennessee had a shot at the national title in Manning’s senior season, but finished 10-2. He finished runner-up to Michigan’s Charles Woodson in the Heisman Trophy voting.
NFL Draft: Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft, going to the Indianapolis Colts. During his stellar pro career, Manning has won a Super Bowl, is a four-time MVP and 11-time Pro Bowl selection.
TIM TEBOW, Florida
As a highly touted freshman, Tebow split time with starter Chris Leak and helped the Gators win the 2006 national title. As a sophomore, Tebow won the Heisman Trophy. Tebow finished third in the 2008 Heisman Trophy voting, but led the Gators to the national title. In 2009, Tebow and the Gators lost the SEC title game to Alabama and he finished his remarkable career with a win in the Sugar Bowl.
NFL Draft: There was debate about whether Tebow could be an NFL quarterback. The Denver Broncos, however, selected Tebow 25th overall in the 2010 Draft. He played some, but didn?t start his first game until Dec. 19. He picked up his first pro win a week later.
JASON WHITE, Oklahoma
As a junior, White won the 2003 Heisman Trophy and led Oklahoma to the BCS National Championship game, losing to LSU. White returned for his senior season and again led Oklahoma to the national title game, this time losing to USC. White finished third in the 2004 Heisman Trophy voting.
NFL Draft: White had suffered two ACL knee injuries and had reconstructive surgeries. That may explain why he went undrafted. White eventually was signed by the Tennessee Titans, but quit football due to his damaged knees.