Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time

70 Years of Outstanding Athletes

Frequently referred to as the “the field general,” the quarterback is often the player who is not only a leader on the team but an outstanding athlete who can make split-second decisions to lead the team to victory. It is the most esteemed position on the football team, but also the one that attracts the most scrutiny.

In our 2013 issue, we featured the top high school football quarterbacks from the Chattanooga area. Since then, we have researched and compiled data to select, update, and rank the top quarterbacks spanning the last 70 years!

 The criteria used, once again, for this ranking include: 1) high school football performance (passing yards, rushing yards, awards won, state championships achieved, win-loss record, etc.) 2) college football career, and 3) post-college football career.

While there are too many great quarterbacks to feature in one article, we do proudly present “70 Years: Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time.”

1. Steve Sloan, 6’0” – 180 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Bradley Central (’61)
COLLEGE: Alabama

  • 1961 TSWA Tennessee All-State QB.
  • 1st Team All-American at Alabama.
  • 1965 SEC MVP honors, Academic All-American.
  • 153.8 passing efficiency ratio at Alabama – the nation’s best in ‘65.
  • Played on two national championship teams at Alabama.
  • Played for the Atlanta Falcons.

2. Bobby Scott, 6’2” – 201 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (’67)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

  • All-City Rossville and Georgia All-State in ‘66.
  • Threw for a career-high 1,697 yards and 14 TDs in ‘70 at Tennessee.
  • MVP in 1970 Sugar Bowl at Tennessee.
  • Played 14 years in the NFL and USFL: New Orleans Saints, New Jersey Generals, Chicago Blitz.

3. Andy Kelly, 6’3” – 230 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rhea County (’87)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

  • High School All-American. 
  • TSSAA Class 3A Mr. Football in ‘86 at Rhea County.
  • Led the Vols to back-to-back SEC Championships (‘89-‘90).
  • When in college, ranked second at UT in all-time passing yards (6,397) and TDs (36) behind Peyton Manning.
  • 15 years in Arena Football League, four of which were with the Nashville Kats.

4. BJ Coleman, 6’3” – 231 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: McCallie (‘07)

  • Two-time TSSAA D-II Mr. Football winner in ‘05 and ‘06.
  • Received the Reggie White Player of the Year Award at McCallie (Sr.).
  • Threw for 6,871 yards and 52 TDs on 579
    of 1,008 passing attempts at UTC.
  • Drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

5. Marty Lowe, 6’1” – 210 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Red Bank (’91)
COLLEGE: Louisville

  • TSSAA Class 3A American General Mr. Football in ‘90 at Red Bank.
  • Threw for 4,861 yards, completing 416 of 767 pass attempts in his career at Louisville.
  • Senior year passing rating 122.
  • 2 years AFL: St. Louis Stampede, Texas Terrors.

6. Loran Carter, 6’2” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Dalton (’64)

  • At Dalton, two-time AA 1st team Georgia All-State in ‘62 and ‘63.
  • In four years playing for Dalton, went 31-9-1.
  • Recorded 3,129 passing yards and 25 passing TDs in his career at Auburn. 
  • Threw second-longest TD pass in Auburn bowl history at the time, in 34-10 victory over Arizona Wildcats in ‘68 Sun Bowl.
  • Earned All-SEC honors as a senior.

7. Dicky Clark, 6’3” – 205 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (’73)
COLLEGE: Georgia

  • 1st team Georgia All-State QB at Rossville in ‘72.
  • In ‘75, when Clark was a defensive end, Georgia went 9-3 overall and 5-1 vs. SEC teams.
  • An All-SEC defensive end and defensive captain for the UGA 1976 SEC Championship team.

8. Jacob Huesman, 6’1” – 210 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Baylor (‘10)

  • At Baylor, totaled 2,828 yards of total offense, including 1,750 rushing with 25 TDs as a senior.
  • TSWA D-II 1st team All-State.
  • TSSAA D-II Mr. Football finalist as a junior.
  • Went 17-7 in his two years as QB.
  • TSSAA D-II Mr. Football as a senior.
  • At UTC, was one of only two in Southern Conference to reach 4,000 passing and 4,000 rushing yards.
  • Three-time offensive player of the year, two-time All-American.

9. Jimmy “Wink” Baker, 6’2” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (‘60)

  • All-City Rossville and Georgia All-State ‘59.
  • Two-time Little All-American and All-Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year at ETSU.
  • ETSU Athletic (‘78) and Rossville High School Sports (‘95) Halls of Fame.
  • Semi-pro: Chattanooga Cherokees, played for Montreal in CFL and Denver in AFL.

10. Toppy Vann, 5’11” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (‘53)
COLLEGE: Georgia Tech

  • Played football, basketball, and baseball at Rossville.
  • All-City Rossville and Georgia All-State in basketball and football in ‘50, ’51, and ‘52.
  • Second team All-SEC at Georgia Tech.
  • Played for Vancouver (British Columbia) Lions in CFL.

11. Hal Ledyard, 6’0” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Chattanooga High (Now Chattanooga High school Center for Creative Arts) (‘49)

  • Lettered at UC in 1952.
  • Member of the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame.
  • Member of two CFL Grey Cup Championship teams (‘61, ‘62).
  • Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 9th round (104th overall) of the ‘53 NFL Draft.
  • 1 year NFL with the 49ers, 9 years CFL with the Omaha Rough Riders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 2 years ORFU (Ontario Rugby Football Union).

12. Billy Baker, 5’11” – 190 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (’56)

  • Won the Tom McCann Award (best player in Chattanooga) in 55.
  • QB of the ’54 and ’55 championship teams at Rossville.
  • Set single-game conference records for most pass attempts, completions, pass yards, and total offense while at Furman.
  • Finished 5th in the nation in passing (’57) while at Furman.

13. Chad Voytik, 6’1” – 209 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Cleveland (‘12)
COLLEGE: University of Pittsburgh, Arkansas State 

  • At Cleveland, gained career total of 6,098 yards, including over
    5,000 passing yards.
  • Ranked by Rivals as 4th best pro-style quarterback in his class and the No. 1 overall prospect in Tennessee.
  • Ranked No. 12 quarterback in the United States by Scout.
  • Was Cleveland High’s all-time leading passer when he graduated.
  • Chosen to play for the 2012 U.S. Under-19 National Team.
  • Played for Pittsburgh where he was named MVP in the Armed Forces Bowl.

14. JaVaughn Craig, 6’2” – 210 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: McCallie (’16)
COLLEGE: Austin Peay State University

  • At McCallie, Division II-AA All-State his senior year.
  • Ranked as 67th player in TN.
  • At Austin Peay, set the school’s single-season record for total offensive yards (3,922), total offensive yards per game (261.5), passing yards (3,208), and TD passes (28).
  • As a senior, ranked 8th in rushing yards among NCAA QBs.
  • Voted 2019 First Team HERO Sports All-American, First Team All-OVC (Ohio Valley Conference), and Third Team STATS FCS All-American.

15. Denny Painter

HIGH SCHOOL: Central (‘67)
COLLEGE: Vanderbilt

  • Captain of the ‘66 Civic Bowl-winning team at Central.
  • While at Vanderbilt, was one of four Chattanooga-area quarterbacks (with Billy Spears, Toppy Vann, Bobby Scott) to go on to defeat Alabama at the collegiate level.
  • Bobby Scott (also profiled) and Denny Painter were teammates on the 1961 Little League Baseball World Series Championship Rossville – Fort Oglethorpe team.

16. Gene Etter, 5’10” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Central (‘56)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

  • Earned 10 letters at Central.
  • Played on two state championship teams at Central, coached by his father EB “Red” Etter.
  • Ran the ball, threw passes, punted, and called plays as a single-wing tailback at UT.
  • Went on to play minor league baseball for several teams, including the Chicago Cubs.

17. Larry Shelley, 5’10” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Central (’73)
COLLEGE: Memphis State

  • TSWA 1st Team All-State playing under EB “Red” Etter at Central in ‘65.
  • Named to Kick Off magazine’s “Top 100 Backs” within High School All-Americans.

18. Austin Herink, 6’3” – 210 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Cleveland (’14)

  • At Cleveland, passed for over 6,000 yards and 67 TDs; completed 67% of his passes.
  • His senior year at ETSU, ranked 5th in the Southern Conference in total offense (1,999 yards).
  • Was 2nd-highest ever at ETSU for pass attempts (1,048), completions (615), and completion percentage (59%).
  • Held ETSU’s single-game passing record by passing for 434 yards in one game.
  • College career-total yards: 6,994.
  • Played for the Dacia Vienna Vikings in Austria.

19. DeAngelo Hardy, 5’10” – 175 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: McCallie (’20)
COLLEGE: Kennesaw State University

  • At McCallie, achieved 7,500 total yards and 75 TDs.
  • Was three-time All-Region and All-State recipient.
  • Led McCallie to the 2019 state championships as a senior and earned MVP honors.
  • Was a Mr. Football finalist as a junior and senior.
  • Currently playing at Kennesaw State University.

20. Robert “The Riddler” Riddle, 6’3” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: McCallie (’17)
COLLEGE: Mercer University, UTC

  • At McCallie, achieved 70% pass-completion rate and 149.8
    passer rating
  • Voted All-State and All-Region, as well as Mr. Football TN runner-up. 
  • At Mercer, passed for 5,312 yards in three seasons.
  • Set single-game passing record at Mercer with 347 yards
    against The Citadel.
  • Earned Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
  • Currently playing for UTC.

21. Kelvin “QB1” Leon, 6’2” – 250 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Ooltewah (‘15)
COLLEGE: Chattanooga State Community College

  • Was Chattanooga Times Free Press Player of the Week.
  • Earned District Offensive Player of the Year in 2014.
  • His senior year of high school alone, passed for 2,986 yards, including 32 TDs (29 passing, 3 rushing), with a 64.7% completion rate.
  • Led Ooltewah to a 10-0 undefeated season his senior year.

22. Bill Romans, 6’2” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Brainerd (‘67)

  • Led Brainerd to a 9-1-1 season in ‘66.
  • Threw for 1,067 passing yards and 14 TDs at Brainerd in ‘67.
  • 1st Team TSSAA All-City Chattanooga in ‘67.
  • 3rd team TSWA All-State Tennessee at Brainerd in ‘67.
  • Recruited to play quarterback at Auburn.

23. Will Healy, 6’0” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Boyd Buchanan (‘03)
COLLEGE: Richmond

  • Two-time TSWA All-State, two-time All-State Honorable Mention, four-time All-Region at Boyd Buchanan.
  • Held Chattanooga-area career passing record (7,700+ yards).
  • Quarterback and team captain of Richmond’s ‘08 FCS National Title team.
  • Currently head football coach at UNC-Charlotte.

24. Nick Tiano, 6’5” – 228 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Baylor (’15)
COLLEGE: Mississippi State, UTC

  • At Baylor, was ranked No. 22 overall prospect in Tennessee by
  • At UTC, reached 5,825 career passing yards, ranking him 7th of all time.
  • Achieved 6,569 total offensive yards – 7th all-time at UTC.
  • Played 13 games with 200 passing yards each for a 5th-place ranking at UTC.
  • Earned MVP of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl following his senior year.

25. Freddy Rohrdanz

HIGH SCHOOL: Brainerd (‘70)

  • TSWA All-City at Brainerd in ‘69.
  • Quarterback for the undefeated (10-0-0) Brainerd ’69 team.
  • Ranked among the top quarterbacks for total yards and yards per completion in a single season at MTSU.

26. Terrell Robinson, 6’3” – 195 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: South Pittsburg (‘10)

  • Tennessee Mr. Football Division I-A “Back of the Year” award-winner at South Pittsburg.
  • TSWA All-State Tennessee QB selection; led South Pittsburg to the I-A title game.
  • Chattanooga Times Free Press Best of Preps Player of the Year.
  • Threw for 1,687 yards, rushed for 1,322 yards, and scored 46 total TDs as a senior.
  • Played QB and receiver at UTC.
  • As a sophomore at UTC, led team in receptions.

27.Dennis Bradshaw

ossville (‘77)
COLLEGE: Memphis

  • All-State Georgia Honorable Mention at Rossville in ‘76.
  • All-North Georgia Football Team at Rossville in ‘77.
  • Went on to play quarterback collegiately at the University of Memphis.

28. Rusty Kidd, 6’3” – 195 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Baylor (‘65)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

  • Lettered in football his sophomore, junior, and senior years at Baylor.
  • Captain of the track, football, and basketball teams his senior year at Baylor.
  • Established Mid-South 440 track record in ‘64.
  • Won the Doug Milton Football Award at Baylor in ‘64.
  • Member of the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame.
  • Went on to play at the University of Tennessee.

29. Corbee “Boom” Wilson, 6’0” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Heritage (Ringgold) (’17)
COLLEGE: Berry College

  • At Heritage, had 6,438 career passing yards, 680 rushing yards, and 81 TDs.
  • Held every quarterback record at Heritage upon graduation.
  • Region MVP, All-State honorable mention.
  • All-time leading passer of the Georgia/Tennessee All-Star Showcase.
  • Led Heritage to first playoff win in school history.
  • Played quarterback at Berry College.
  • Now assistant football coach at Heritage High School.

30. Danny Sandlin

HIGH SCHOOL: Brainerd (’66)

  • Played basketball, football, and baseball at Brainerd.
  • Led Brainerd to a 10-1-0 record in ‘64.
  • Played football and baseball at MTSU.

31. Kyrell Sanford, 5’11” – 190 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Ooltewah (’19)
COLLEGE: University of the Cumberlands 

  • At Ooltewah, reached 5,269 yards and 51 TDs in two seasons as a starting quarterback.
  • Had 70% completion rate.
  • Named Region II-6A Player of the Year.
  • TNFCA All-State quarterback.

32. Rick Townsend, 6’2” – 198 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Dalton (’70)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

  • 1st team All-State Georgia AAA as a QB at Dalton.
  • Was a barefoot kicker with Tennessee, All-American ‘72-’73.
  • Kicked for the New York Giants in the NFL.

33. Johnny Moore

HIGH SCHOOL: Howard (‘61)
COLLEGE: Florida A&M

  • Played linebacker in addition to quarterback at Howard.
  • Quarterback of the undefeated 11-0-0 ‘61 Howard team.
  • Played in the first Pioneer Bowl in 1961 at McCallie’s Alumni Field, where Howard won 89-0 and continued its 40-game winning streak.
  • During his time on the field at Howard, his team scored 382 points and only gave up 55.

34. Fred Shropshire

HIGH SCHOOL: Howard (‘68)
COLLEGE: Western Kentucky

  • Passed for nearly 1,000 yards (941) and 13 TDs in one season at Howard.
  • Led Howard’s last undefeated team (10-0), which scored 353 points and gave up only 53.
  • Was named “Most Athletic,” “Mr. Howard,” All-City
    and All-HIL (Hamilton Interscholastic League) during
    his senior year.

35. Stan Nix, 6’0” – 180 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Ooltewah (‘86)

  • Represented Ooltewah as quarterback in the ‘86 TN-KY All-Star Game.
  • First Ooltewah quarterback to play in college.
  • At UTC, passed for 2,344 yards over two seasons. 
  • Had 221 passing yards against Furman in ‘87, a record not beaten until Jacob Huesman played as a freshman at UTC in 2012.

36. Kurt Barnes, 6’1” – 190 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Chattanooga Valley (‘82)

  • TSWA First Team All-State at Chattanooga Valley in ‘81.
  • Signed with Georgia in 1982 as quarterback and punter.
  • Transferred to MTSU from Georgia where he played as a Blue Raider.

37. Quincy Prigmore, 6’1” – 215 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Cleveland (‘92)
COLLEGE: Tennessee

  • Recorded 24 TDs as a senior at Cleveland.
  • TSWA All-State at Cleveland in ‘90.
  • Blue-Chip All-American at Cleveland in ‘91.
  • Over four seasons, played as defensive back and linebacker at the University of Tennessee.

38. Benji McConkey

HIGH SCHOOL: Dalton (’94)
COLLEGE: Georgia Military College

  • Georgia All-State at Dalton in ’93 and ‘94.
  • Led Dalton to a two-year record of 25-2.
  • Went 12-1 in ’93 and 13-1 at Dalton in ‘94.
  • Received a scholarship to play at Georgia Military College.

39. Caleb Callahan, 6’2” – 205 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Northwest Whitfield (’05)
COLLEGE: Troy University

  • Georgia All-State at Northwest Whitfield in ‘04.
  • Georgia North-South game selection at Northwest Whitfield in ‘04.
  • Tennessee-Georgia All-Star game MVP at Northwest Whitfield in ‘05.
  • Led Northwest Whitfield to a 38-35 win over rival Dalton in ‘05.
  • Led Northwest Whitfield to a first-round state playoff upset of North Clayton in ‘05.

40. James “Goose” Manning, 5’7” – 180 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Ooltewah (’11)
COLLEGE: Carson-Newman University

  • At Ooltewah, named All-Region quarterback in 2011.
  • Awarded Chattanooga Times Free Press Player of the Week two times.
  • At Carson-Newman, played running back and wide receiver. 
  • Was team captain in 2014 and 2015; won the Team Leadership Award from 2013-2015.
  • Currently head football coach at Ooltewah.

41. Bob Worthington, 5’11” – 175 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Baylor (’74)

  • Played for Baylor’s 13-0 undefeated 1973 season and led his team to a state championship title that year. The team was later voted the No. 1 high school team in the country by the National Sports News Service.
  • Named Baylor’s MVP that same championship season.
  • Passed for 888 yards and 11 TDs his senior year at Baylor.
  • Earned All-City recognition.
  • Received a football scholarship to UTC, where he started several games.



William Riddle, 6’1” – 178 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: McCallie (’22)

  • As a junior, was quarterback for McCallie 2020 State Championship team.
  • For the 2020 season, threw for 1,485 yards, 17 TD passes, and 58 rushing yards, with a passer rating of 155.
  • Voted Chattanooga Times Free Press Player of the Week and Friday Night Rivals Player of the Game.

Christian Thomas, 6’0” – 190 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Christian Heritage (’22)

  • 20-3 in two years as a starting quarterback.
  • Racked up 3,396 yards passing, 1,002 yards rushing, and 43 TDs in two years of play.
  • 1st Team All-Region, 1st Team All-Area, and All-State Honorable Mention.
  • Elite 11 Regional Invitee and Regional Offensive Player of the Year.