As we crack the top 10 of our SU Top 100 list, we start with an SU quarterback who nearly became the Orange’s second Heisman winner ever.
Don McPherson played every game of his Syracuse career, even though he didn’t start until his sophomore campaign. After taking the job in his second season, McPherson passed for almost 1,500 yards with a passer rating of nearly 150.
But it was McPherson’s senior season that solidified him inside our Top 10. In that 1987 season, McPherson led the Orange to an undefeated season while finishing second in the Heisman race. In the Sugar Bowl against Auburn, the game ended in a 16-16 tie with McPherson named as the Sugar Bowl MVP.
With McPherson under center, Syracuse had its second best season in program history, and its best since its 1959 National Championship. Until 1987, SU had gone 16 years without ever entering the AP Top 25 poll.
In the 1987 season McPherson set 22 Syracuse program records. Some of the single-season awards included a new program record for touchdown passes (22), consecutive games with a touchdown pass (10) and passing yards per game (212.8).
McPherson also became the all-time passing leader in yards, completions and passing attempts. For his career, McPherson threw for nearly 6,000 yards and added almost 1,600 yards on the ground In 2008 McPherson was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame, and in 2013 Syracuse retired his No. 9 jersey.
After graduation, McPherson was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the 1988 NFL Draft. McPherson went on to play professionally for seven seasons in the NFL and the Canadien Football League.