Given Georgia’s college football success in recent years, fans might be wondering where current NFL rookie quarterback Stetson Bennett ranks among the 10 greatest Bulldogs quarterbacks of all time. Let’s take a moment here to explore that issue, looking back at members of past UGA national-championship winning teams, finalists for the Heisman Trophy, and some others who left their mark on this historically prestigious program.

So, it’s time to ask the question: Who was the best Georgia quarterback prior to the 2023 season?

Who is the Georgia Bulldogs’ starting quarterback in 2023?

Carson Beck takes over as Georgia’s starting quarterback in 2023, following in the footsteps of Stetson Bennett, who is now with the Los Angeles Rams. Beck is his third season with the Bulldogs, having sat behind Bennett for the past two years. Dawgs fans are excited about the prospect of seeing him finally get his shot.

The new Georgia QB is a former five-star recruit who will attempt to lead the Bulldogs to another national title. They certainly have the defense to support him, but can he take them all the way?

Who are the Georgia Bulldogs’ backup quarterbacks in 2023?

Redshirt sophomore Brock Vandagriff and redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton will back up Carson Beck in 2023.

Vandagriff is a former four-star, in-state recruit who could become the successor to Beck in a couple of years. For now, he will compete with Stockton for the backup spot. Stockton is another in-state four-star recruit who arrived just one year after Vandagriff.

Georgia Bulldogs Quarterbacks History

The Georgia Bulldogs’ rich history at quarterback goes back to the days of John Rauch in the 1940s and Frank Tarkenton, who went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career after playing for the Bulldogs in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The 1990s brought two more high-end players in Eric Zeier and Quincy Carter.

Although the Bulldogs won a national championship in 1980, the program didn’t start winning on the strength of its star quarterbacks until the 2000s and beyond. Over the past 20 years, Georgia has seen great performances from starting quarterbacks Matt Stafford, Jake Fromm and, most recently, Stetson Bennett, who won championships in back-to-back years.

Bennett is one of the most revered stars in Georgia football history – a player who patiently waited his turn and emerged as a leader during a historic championship run.

Active Georgia Bulldogs QBs in the NFL

Although they attended Georgia over a decade apart, Stetson Bennett and Matthew Stafford are now together as members of the Los Angeles Rams.

Stafford has had a long career in the league, having spent most of it with the Detroit Lions before being traded to Los Angeles. With the Rams, he finally won a well-deserved Super Bowl ring.

Bennett, selected in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, will back up Stafford this season.

Former Georgia QB Jake Fromm is also still in the NFL as a member of the Washington Commanders’ practice squad.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Georgia Bulldogs Quarterbacks of All Time

  1. Quincy Carter

Seasons with Georgia: 1998 to 2000

Quincy Carter spent three years as Georgia’s starting quarterback, throwing for an impressive 6,447 yards and 35 touchdowns. His standout feature was his cannon arm, which had earlier attracted baseball’s Chicago Cubs, who selected him in the 1996 MLB draft. Carter’s baseball career didn’t work out too well, but thanks to his physical prowess, he was able to continue his athletic pursuits in college football.

Carter quickly won the starting job and was recognized as SEC Freshman of the Year in 1998 – partly due to his role in leading the Bulldogs to a Peach Bowl victory. He also ranked in the SEC’s top three for pass completions and passing yards in both 1998 and 1999.

His numbers could have been even better if it weren’t for Carter’s messy final season with the Bulldogs. Inconsistent play and injuries limited him to seven games in 2000, when he threw only six touchdown passes and was intercepted 10 times.

  1. D.J. Shockley

Seasons with Georgia: 2002 to 2005

D.J. Shockley had to spend much of his Georgia career patiently serving as a backup to David Greene, but when his opportunity finally came in 2005, he didn’t disappoint. As the Bulldogs starter, he threw for 2,588 yards with an impressive tally of 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

The highlight of Shockley’s season – and entire college career – came in the 2005 SEC Championship Game. In that performance against LSU, Shockley ran for a touchdown and threw for two more. Not only did he help the Bulldogs upset the Tigers, but he also won the game’s MVP award. Despite losing to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl, Shockley would go on to win the FCA Bobby Bowden Football Player of the Year Award.

Because he spent much of his career in a backup role, Shockley doesn’t appear alongside other great Georgia Bulldogs quarterbacks in the team’s record books, but his one magic season gets him on this list.

His NFL career started in 2006, when he was a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons. He didn’t see any extensive gametime and was out of the league just a few years later.

  1. Matthew Stafford

Seasons with Georgia: 2006 to 2008

Matthew Stafford was one of Georgia’s most talented quarterbacks, arriving at the school amid high expectations as the first freshman starter since Quincy Carter eight years earlier.

Stafford threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his first season but went on to make considerable improvements in each of his next three. His yardage went from 1,749 in his freshman year to 2,523 in his sophomore season. He eventually completed his final season with a conference-leading 235 pass completions for 3,459 yards.

Although his college career lacked notable awards or overall team success, Stafford showed NFL scouts enough to prompt the Detroit Lions to make him the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

After 12 solid seasons with the Lions, Stafford moved to the Los Angeles Rams, where he led the team to a Super Bowl in his first season. He threw for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns in what is undoubtedly the greatest season of his long career. It also makes him one of the most successful NFL quarterbacks ever to come out of the University of Georgia.

  1. Eric Zeier

Seasons with Georgia: 1991 to 1994

Eric Zeier is the first former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback to appear on this list who also ranks among the school’s top three in a career passing category. He set 67 Georgia Records and 18 SEC records during his four years with the team, and still has the three highest passing-yardage games in Bulldog history. His best was a record 544-yard performance against Southern Miss in 1993.

Zeier’s statistical prowess was helped by his durability, since he started every game in each of his final three seasons. His 11,153 career passing yards were an SEC record until Peyton Manning surpassed him in 1997, and nearly 30 years later, his yardage total remains the third-highest in Georgia history. In 1994, Zeier was named a First Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.

In the NFL, Zeier struggled to get going, and his collegiate success never translated to the pro game. He played for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – finishing his NFL career with a total of only 3,520 passing yards.

  1. Jake Fromm

Seasons with Georgia: 2017 to 2019

Jake Fromm was as consistent as it gets for a Georgia starting QB. He threw for between 2,615 and 2,960 yards in each of his three seasons, never passing for fewer than 24 touchdowns. He ranks second on the Bulldogs’ career list for passing touchdowns with 78. That ranking is even more impressive when one considers that Fromm is the only member of the top five who did not play a full four seasons.

An injury to Jacob Eason in the 2017 season-opener forced Fromm into a premature arrival as Georgia’s starting QB. Not fading in the limelight, Fromm had a fantastic freshman season, leading the Bulldogs to wins in the SEC Championship Game and Rose Bowl before the team lost the National Championship Game to Alabama. It was no surprise when Fromm was named SEC Freshman of the Year.

The two seasons that followed brought more wins and more SEC Championship Game appearances, which Georgia unfortunately lost. Fromm didn’t have eye-catching athletic traits, but his consistent work as a passer got him selected by the Bills in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He has struggled at the NFL level and is now part of the Washington Commanders’ practice squad.

  1. Fran Tarkenton

Seasons with Georgia: 1958 to 1960

We reach back to the 1950s for the next Georgia quarterback on this list. Fran Tarkenton was a decorated college and NFL player, having been enshrined in the Halls of Fame for both the college and pro game. He also received two All-SEC First Team selections during his three varsity seasons with the Bulldogs.

More than 60 years later, Tarkenton’s career passing numbers don't look particularly special. Over the course of three seasons, he only threw for 2,100 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. He did, however, lead the Bulldogs to an Orange Bowl victory in his senior year.

Tarkenton was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1961 and starred right from the first snap of his rookie year. He came off the bench in his NFL debut to throw for 250 yards and four touchdowns -- also running for another -- in a come-from-behind victory. This moment launched a Hall of Fame career that included an NFL MVP award, NFL Offensive Player of the Year award, nine trips to the Pro Bowl, and many more accolades.

  1. John Rauch

Seasons with Georgia: 1945 to 1948

John Rauch was one of the first heroes of Georgia football. His time as a starting quarterback between 1945 and 1948 yielded four consecutive trips to bowl games and an incredible undefeated season in 1946.

Rauch was named the SEC’s Player of the Year in 1946 and later went on to earn First Team All-America honors in 1948. He was also the first college quarterback ever to surpass 4,000 passing yards in a career.

Rauch only played for three seasons in the NFL but went on to have a successful coaching career. Most notably, in 1968, he led AFL’s Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl II, which they unfortunately lost to the Green Bay Packers.

  1. David Greene

Seasons with Georgia: 2001 to 2004

The next player on this list was a statistical giant among Georgia quarterbacks. David Greene spent four seasons as the Georgia Bulldogs’ starting QB, enjoying a decorated college career that included the team’s first SEC championship since 1982.

That famous victory came during Greene’s second season, and he was named MVP of the championship game in addition to being the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. This all followed an impressive freshman season in which Greene threw for 2,789 yards and 17 touchdowns to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

During that freshman year, Greene was involved in one of Georgia’s most legendary moments, nicknamed the “Hobnail Boot.”. The famous play was a touchdown pass to fullback Vernon Haynes that helped Georgia defeat Tennessee with just five seconds left on the clock.

By the end of his college career, Greene had set a then-NCAA record for career wins by a starting quarterback with 42. This broke the previous mark held by Peyton Manning, and it stood until 2009. Greene reached the NFL but was never anything more than a backup QB at that level.

  1. Aaron Murray

Seasons with Georgia: 2010 to 2013

The penultimate player on this list is the current holder of Georgia’s career records for passing yardage and passing touchdowns. Aaron Murray amassed his 13,166 career passing yards as the Bulldogs’ starter between 2010 and 2013. His total is a full 1,638 yards ahead of the next-closest Georgia QB, and his 121 touchdowns are a mind-boggling 43 more than the 78 that landed Stetson Bennett at No. 2 on the career passing TDs list.

Not only were Murray’s numbers good enough for Georgia Bulldog records, but they also made him the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yardage and touchdowns. His most productive season came in 2012, when he threw for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns.

Unfortunately, Murray never managed to win an SEC championship with the team, but he was a Freshman All-American and the first-ever SEC quarterback to post three consecutive 3,000-yard seasons, which he then managed to do a fourth time as a senior. His individual statistics are so great that he might have been No. 1 on this list if his teams had enjoyed more success.

  1. Stetson Bennett

Seasons with Georgia: 2019 to 2022

Stetson Bennett achieved more success than any QB in Georgia football history, and many will argue that he is the greatest Georgia quarterback of all time.

His first left his mark on UGA history in 2021, helping the Bulldogs win their first national championship since 1980. The following year, the Bulldogs defended their crown with a truly dominant 65-7 rout of TCU. Bennett was named the MVP of both championship-game showdowns, securing his place as a Georgia legend.

It isn’t just national-championship success that made Bennett a legend. In 2022, he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, something no Georgia player had managed for 30 years. During his senior year, Bennett threw for 4,127 yards – a school single-season record. Bennett was also the first Georgia quarterback to pass for more than 4,000 yards in one season.

Bennett was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. It remains to be seen if he will become another one of the successful Dawgs at the NFL level.

Parameters for Rankings

These Georgia Bulldogs quarterbacks have been ranked based on their overall team success and individual Hall of Fame careers. Further success at the NFL level has been mentioned to respect the players’ career journeys, but NFL achievement did not impact the final rankings.


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