Another former SU signal-caller might hold the title of best Orange QB in the 1990s, but Marvin Graves comes in a close second. Graves was a four-year starter who led Syracuse to three bowl wins (1990 Aloha, 1992 Hall of Fame, 1993 Fiesta). He successfully helped navigate the Orange through a coaching change, when Dick MacPherson left for the Patriots and Paul Pasqualoni took over. Despite the circumstances, Graves and SU didn’t miss a beat.
Graves also was under center when Syracuse joined the Big East in 1991. He was unfazed in the new conference. SU went undefeated in its first year in the Big East, including a hard-fought road victory against 20th-ranked Pitt. The team was ranked every single week, and finished off the year with a bowl victory over Ohio State. SU’s sophomore QB led the newly-formed conference in completion percentage and yards per attempt.
Graves was prolific in 1992, leading the country in completion percentage, passing yards per attempt, and the Big East in passing efficiency. There were some memorable wins in ‘92 as well. The infamous game in Morgantown when Graves threw the game-winning touchdown after somehow avoiding ejection. A strong showing against BC on the road. A 476-yard performance against Rutgers. SU only lost one game in the Big East, and it was a 16-10 heartbreaker against Miami (Chris Gedney was tackled at the three yard line as time expired). The Orange finished the season ranked sixth after a bowl victory over Colorado.
Although Graves wasn’t a statistical leader in 1993, he was still elite, assisted by the emergence of wideout Marvin Harrison. However, Syracuse couldn’t maintain the success of past years, finishing with a 6-4-1 record and missing out on a bowl. Graves finished his college career as the all time leader in passing yards (8,466) and second in touchdowns (48). He was named into the SU All-Century team in 1999.
Graves played professionally for seven years in the CFL.