South Carolina Football’s GOAT Series: Top-12 greatest quarterbacks of all-time

Ranking the top-12 greatest quarterbacks in South Carolina football history

South Carolina football's all-time passing yardage leader, Todd Ellis, . Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Network
South Carolina football's all-time passing yardage leader, Todd Ellis, . Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Network /
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South Carolina football will never be mistaken for one of the nation’s top producers of quarterback talent. However, there have still been a number of impressive signal callers who have donned the block C on their helmets. Scramblers, pocket passers, and guys who could do both have taken snaps under center for the Gamecocks.

Honorable Mentions

Blake Mitchell: Blake Mitchell (2004-2007) was an underappreciated quarterback with a whip for an arm. The skinny kid from LaGrange, Georgia was yanked around a bit by Steve Spurrier because of conflicting skillsets with the athletic Syvelle Newton, but Mitchell was a good player when given consistent playing time.

Mitchell finished his Gamecock career in the top-7 in completions, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, and QBR. He had games where he struggled with interceptions, but in the Spurrier-era golden age of Carolina quarterbacks, only Stephen Garcia finished with more 300+ yard passing games than #12.

Bobby Fuller: Had he spent more time in Columbia, Bobby Fuller (1990-1991) certainly would be higher on this list. Fuller transferred to South Carolina from Appalachian State when Sparky Woods became the head coach. On an offense loaded with talent, he threw for almost 5000 yards but led two unremarkable seasons in which the Gamecocks only won 7 FBS games despite only playing 5 ranked opponents.

Garry Harper: Garry Harper (1978-1980) had one job in garnet and black: hand the ball to King George. He did that job well and rode on George Rogers’ back to 20 wins, the same as Gamecock greats Stephen Garcia and Steve Taneyhill. Harper did just enough to give South Carolina a chance to win most weeks, and he had no problem deferring to Rogers and Johnnie Wright.

Dan Reeves: One of the best athletes to play quarterback for the Gamecocks, Dan Reeves (1962-1964) was one of the few bright spots on some bad Carolina teams. Among the all-time quarterback rushers at South Carolina, Reeves went on to a long NFL career as a running back and slot receiver before becoming a great NFL head coach.

Ron Bass: Ron Bass (1973-1977) was a popular quarterback despite following the great Jeff Grantz. Bass was one of the best running quarterbacks in school history and was part of a fun backfield with Clarence Williams and Kevin Long. Immortalized as “Sunshine” in the movie Remember the Titans, Bass had his best performance against rival North Carolina when, filling in for an injured Grantz, he rushed for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

Allen Mitchell: The starter during most of the “Black Magic” season of 1984, Mitchell split time at quarterback much of his career. He struggled statistically and wasn’t as talented as many other South Carolina quarterbacks. However, Mitchell was a good leader who won way more games than his natural abilities would indicate possible. His toughness was well-respected during his playing career.

Syvelle Newton: Syvelle Newton (2003-2006) was a football player. One of the best athletes to play for the Gamecocks regardless of position, Newton bounced around from position to position but spent two seasons as the leader under center for Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier. Newton is one of only four players in the history of college football to amass over 600 yards passing, 600 yards rushing, and 600 yards receiving. He also spent time on defense and was a threat offensively, no matter where he was lined up at the snap.

Johnny Gramling: Playing in an era when freshmen were not allowed on the team, Johnny Gramling (1951-1953) started for three seasons and never had a losing season despite the Gamecocks having three losing seasons in a row prior to Gramling getting the job. He was a two-time all-conference player and led South Carolina to two shutout victories over rival Clemson, something that hasn’t happened since Gramling graduated.