The Summer sports doldrums are officially upon us, Louisville fans. As Cardinal faithful, we’re now desperately crawling through the desert, looking for any sign of a thirst quenching story or nugget of information to hold us over before at last reaching the beginning of football season. Admittedly, there have been a few mirages here and there that slightly resemble satisfying sports entertainment: The World Cup, a hot dog eating contest and — shutter — baseball. But make no mistake, these are all sports delusions, and offer very little fulfilling nutrition or enjoyment. To be fair, while there are other “notable” sports programs around town including an exceptional baseball team, nothing compares to a healthy serving of football or basketball. Don’t @ me on that.
Considering that football season is just over a month away, we figured now would be a good time to come up with an arbitrary list boasting (what we believe to be) the five greatest Louisville quarterbacks in Louisville history. Yes, it’s come to this, a bullshit list that ultimately serves as nothing more than an arguing point of conversation to hold us over until the Cardinals finally face off against Alabama on September 1st.
Read as we list our top 5 QB’s in order, #1 being the greatest of all time.
#5 DAVE RAGONE
At 6′ 3” and 220 pounds, strong-armed lefty Dave Ragone (27-11) was a big son-of-a-bitch that consistently made plays, despite never having much of an offensive line (remember that game vs. UK when he was sacked a billion times?). When he finished his career at Louisville he was the all-time passing leader in school history, He was a three-time All-American honorable mention and three-time Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year. Let’s be real though, the main reason Ragone is on this list is because of that epic performance in the rain against Florida State back in 2002, which at the time was the biggest win in school history.
#4 STEFAN LEFORS
Before explaining why this guy belongs on this list, let’s just make one thing clear. It’s spelled Stefan LeFors. There is no “L” between the “F” and the “O”. I never understood why so many people couldn’t get that spelling correct. I mean, it’s on his jersey! But anyway, I’ll always remember LeFors as being a reliable QB that never panicked under pressure.
Despite not having a huge arm, he was pretty accurate as a thrower completing 66% of his passes over the course of his carreer; it’s also worth mentioning that he threw for an incredible 73.5% completion rate in 2004. That year under Bobby Petrino’s tutelage, LeFors led the Cards to an 11-1 record in which they finished 6th in the final AP Poll which remains as the highest finish in school history).
#3 BRIAN BROHM
Maybe the purest pocket passer that Bobby Petrino as ever had behind center, Brohm began his UofL career with a ton of hype. He’d had a legendary career at Trinity Highschool earning him the attention of several high profile programs, and attracting Sports Illustrated for a magazine cover before ever taking a college snap. With a well-documented family lineage heavily link to the Cards, everyone in town knew he was the heir apparent that would take Louisville to the next step.
Despite not being able to finish the 2005 season due to a knee injury, Brohm was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year and 1st Team All-Big East Quarterback. In the 2007 Orange Bowl, Brohm earned MVP honors by leading Louisville to its first-ever BCS victory, 24-13 over Wake Forest. Brohm completed 24 of 34 passes for 311 yards, the third highest total in Orange Bowl history.
Statistically speaking, his best season came in 2007 when he thew for 4,024 yards and 30 touchdowns, but that season ended up being a wash as coach Steve Kragthorpe successfully ran that mega-talented team into the ground, finishing with a lousy 6-6 record and no bowl berth. Despite that forgettable year, Brohm will always be one of the most beloved Cardinals in history.
#2 LAMAR JACKSON
There’s a lot to be said about the first Louisville quarterback to win the Heisman trophy. In his three years at Louisville, he razzled and dazzled not only Cardinal fans, but he was the biggest star in college football for two years as he juked and jived his way to massive statistics never before seen. He had a decent freshman season, but really exploded into the national conversation in the 2015 Music City Bowl vs. Texas A&M as he 227 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for a Music City Bowl-record 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Riding that momentum, Jackson’s sophomore year would prove to be one of the most prolific in Louisville history. While every game he started became nationally recognized must-see TV, his most prolific performance came against #2 Florida State where Jackson completed 13 of 20 passes for 216 yards, threw one touchdown and one interception, and had 146 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. He scored 4 of the 5 total touchdowns in the first half. After that game, there was never really any doubt that Lamar would be Louisville’s first ever Heisman Trophy winner.
Going into his Junior season, Jackson faced impossible expectations as his team lacked a legitimate offensive line, leaving him to fend for himself on many, many scrambles for his life. Despite the teams major offensive weakness, LJ finished with 3,660 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, earning him his second straight trip to New York as a Heisman finalist, ultimately losing to Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.
#1 TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
The man. The myth. The legend. We’re talking Teddy Bridgewater, who I feel is the indisputable greatest quarterback in Louisville history. No matter the stakes, as long as Teddy was in command, everything felt like it was going to be okay. He’s responsible for what remains as Louisville’s biggest victory in program history: the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory over the heavily favored Florida Gators.
As a sophomore in 2012, Bridgewater led the Cards to a Big East title and a berth to the program’s 2nd BCS Bowl Game. He finished the regular season completing 267 of 387 passes for 3,452 yards with 25 touchdowns 7. He finished 6th in the nation in completion percentage, 8th in yards per attempt, and 7th in passing efficiency, thus earning him the Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Despite coming up short of another BCS Bowl his 3rd and final year, Bridgewater completed 303 of 427 passes for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and four interceptions finishing with a 71% completion percentage.
I understand that a lot of people would have Lamar at #1 on this list, and I can understand why. But I personally put a pretty big premium on actually winning, which despite his efforts and impressive statistics, his teams often seemed to fall short in primetime match-ups and big bowl games. Plus, Teddy never lost to Kentucky. So there’s that.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Obviously, a major name is missing from this list. Sorry, but it’s hard for us to recognize what Johnny Unitas did in the early 50’s. Football was an entirely different game then, and we’ve only seen a handful of highlights of what he did in Louisville. So, having said that, we’re not going to pretend to know how good he was and how he matches up against the modern quarterback.