It won’t come as a surprise to find that Donovan McNabb is the greatest QB in the history of the Syracuse football program. McNabb finished his career in the NFL with over 40,000 total yards, over 250 passing total TDs along with 6 pro bowl appearances. It’s no doubt he had a great career at the highest level, a step down at the collegiate level, however, he was even better.
#1: Donovan McNabb
McNabb joined the SU football program in 1995 and unlike the others on this list, he took over as the starter immediately. The kid from Chicago toasted opponents in his Freshman year. He led the Orange to 9 wins throwing for a shade under 2,000 yards and scoring nearly 20 total touchdowns. In his first year in Orange threads, McNabb took the squad to the Gator Bowl where Syracuse stomped Clemson 41-0 (the largest margin of victory in Gator Bowl history) thanks to a heroic performance from the young QB. McNabb threw for 3 TDs on 309 yards on his way to being named the game’s MVP. Things didn’t let up from that point. In Sophomore year the dual-threat served the Big East more of the same, another 9 wins and this time a conference championship set the ‘Cuse up for a date with Houston in the Liberty Bowl. Like ‘95, ‘96 ended in celebration, McNabb once again led his squad to victory, this time 30-17. Hype started to surround the young QB playing great football up north. His Junior and Senior years solidified that hype. Despite two bowl game losses to finish out his term as the leader of the SU offense, McNabb’s final seasons at SU etched his name into Syracuse Football history as the greatest the team ever had thanks to his stats but also his 2nd and 3rd conference championships. He eclipsed 2,000 yards passing in each of his last two seasons, but arguably, more importantly, McNabb planted his flag alone atop the mountain of all-time passing touchdowns. He still holds the Syracuse record to this day with 77 career TDs through the air.
McNabb was drafted 2nd overall in the 1999 NFL draft by the Eagles where he spent the majority of his career. Though he never won a Super Bowl, Syracuse fans will always remember him as a winner.