The Sun Herald is running a 20-part series that marks the 20th anniversary of Conference USA. It's called “C-USA Top 5” and it involves ranking everything from the league's top five all-time running backs to the top five coaches:
When ranking the best players in Conference USA history at each position, choosing among the top quarterbacks is a difficult task.
There is no question on who deserves to be considered the best quarterback in C-USA history – Houston's Case Keenum.
In a pass-happy C-USA, the rest of the field is much tougher to put together.
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But here you have it, the top five quarterbacks in the 20-year history of the league:
1. Case Keenum (Houston, 2007-11): His numbers are staggering. With 19,217 career passing yards, Keenum is by far the top passer in the history of the FBS, out-pacing the second-place quarterback (Hawaii's Timmy Chang) by 2,145 yards. He also has the most career touchdown passes in FBS with 155. For a Houston program that has produced many impressive college quarterbacks, Keenum is the best.
2. Rakeem Cato (Marshall, 2011-): With 91 career touchdown passes, Cato already ranks fourth in C-USA history in that category. Coming off back-to-back incredible seasons, Cato could be a dark horse candidate for the Heisman this year.
3. Austin Davis (Southern Miss, 2008-11): C-USA has had flashier quarterbacks in its history, but not many of them were more steady than Davis, a former walk-on who broke the vast majority of Brett Favre's records at USM. He ranks sixth all-time in C-USA in passing yards (10,892) and threw for 83 touchdowns compared to just 27 interceptions. He also rushed for 25 touchdowns. Davis and Keenum faced off once in their college careers with USM walking away with the win in the 2011 Conference USA title game.
4. Paul Smith (Tulsa, 2005-07): The Golden Hurricane became a consistent winner with Smith behind center. Tulsa twice made it to the title game under his watch and won the 2005 C-USA championship. He was solid throughout his career, but he was great as a senior with 5,065 passing yards and 47 passing touchdowns. He also ran for 27 touchdowns, a C-USA career record for a quarterback.
5. Dave Ragone (Louisville, 1999-2002): His numbers may not seem as good as some of the quarterbacks that followed him in C-USA, but Ragone was the best passer in the league's first decade. He was the three-time C-USA Player of The Year from 2000-02. The three-year starter accounted for 8,564 passing yards and 72 touchdown tosses in his career.
Also-rans: East Carolina QB Dave Garrard, Houston QB Kevin Kolb, Louisville QB Chris Redman, Rice QB Chase Clement, Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne.
Next C-USA Top 5: Receivers, which will run on Wednesday.