Ranking the 10 best USC quarterbacks of all-time

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images /
1 of 11
USC quarterback Sam Darnold. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
USC quarterback Sam Darnold. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Who are the best USC quarterbacks of all-time? We rank the top 10 passers in Trojan history, from Pat Haden to Sam Darnold.

USC thoroughly deserves the moniker of “Tailback U” but there is no shortage of passing talent to recognize as well.

The pantheon of USC quarterbacks includes All-Americans and national championship winners like “Dynamite” Don Williams, Orv Mohler, Gus Shaver and Irvine “Cotton” Warburton from the dawn of Trojan domination on the college football landscape.

That success continued into the 1960s, with Pete Beathard earning two all-conference nods.

In the late 1980s, Todd Marinovich rose up the chart of all-time USC passing leaders. In the 1990s, Brad Otton led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory.

More recently, Cody Kessler set or tied records for lowest interception rate and highest passing efficiency, as well as most completions and touchdowns in a season.

Yet none of those men rises to the level of the 10 best USC quarterbacks of all-time.

Who made the cut as the top passers to wear the cardinal and gold?

First, there is a distinction to be made between “best” and “greatest.” The latter leans heavily on accolades, which no doubt matter, but could also be considered team achievements. No quarterback has ever lifted a trophy all by himself.

Seeking the best quarterback requires an equal look at the personal and team accomplishments of each player and what they were capable of.

So, without further ado, here are the 10 best USC quarterbacks ever: