The highs and lows of following college’s winningest QBs

Florida State transfer Jake Coker (inset) will try to take over for AJ McCarron, who won 36 games and two national titles at Alabama.


Derick E. Hingle/Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Does Jake Coker know what he’s getting himself into?

Jameis Winston’s backup at Florida State is transferring to Alabama, where he will be eligible to play next season and will try to replace AJ McCarron.

"We think a lot of Jake and we are excited to have him join our team," coach Nick Saban said in a statement. "He is not only an outstanding football player, but he is also a fine young man who we feel will be a great fit with our program at Alabama."

How good of a fit could determine whether the Crimson Tide will be in position for a fourth national championship in six seasons. But Coker certainly has immense shoes to fill, with McCarron tying for ninth all-time with a career record of 36-4, not mention winning two of those titles.

Be it a matter of schools struggling to recruit another elite quarterback unwilling to wait his turn or simply showing us how difficult it is for programs to win consistently, it’s not easy following the game’s winningest QBs.

We’ll have to wait to see what Coker can bring to a ‘Bama squad that should open the season ranked in the top 5. But as for the others that went where he’s headed, here’s a those who took over for the top 10 QBs on the wins list, and the results.

His career came to an unceremonious close before the Hawaii Bowl in December as he was sent home over a public urination charge that he’s since refuted. But Southwick’s time as Broncos QB really ended with a broken ankle on the first offensive play on Oct. 19 against Nevada. He would attempt just two more passes at Boise.

In all, Southwick went 15-4 as a starter — including 11-2 in 2012, the first year post-Moore, when the Broncos tied for the Mountain West lead and won the Las Vegas Bowl — and threw for 4,784 yards, 33 TDs and 13 INTs.

Texas went 5-7 in the first season post-Colt McCoy with Garrett Gilbert at QB. He would eventually transfer to SMU.

The national high school player of the year in 2009, called Gilbert "as cool under fire as they come."

Thrust into the spotlight when McCoy went down in the 2010 BCS title game, Gilbert rallied the Longhorns within three after facing an 18-point deficit. But it would be the highlight of his time in burnt orange as he and Texas went 5-7 in his first year as a starter and he lost his job two games into 2011 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.

Gilbert left Austin and wound up at SMU, where he produced the seventh-best offensive day in NCAA history when he totaled 635 yards this past Oct. 26 vs. Temple.

He spent two years watching Dalton, one as a redshirt and another as his backup before taking over in 2011. Pachall proceeded to throw for 2,921 yards, 25 TDs and seven picks that season as the Horned Frogs went 11-2.

But it would be his only full season as Pachall was arrested and charged with DWI after four games in ’12. He was suspended and ultimately withdrew from school for an inpatient rehab center for substance abuse. While Pachall returned this last fall, he sat out five games with a broken arm.

Despite missing 14 games in all, Pachall still ended his career as TCU’s all-time leader in completion percentage (62.9) and third in passing TDs (40) and went 17-6 as a starter.

The five-star prospect was considered Mark Richt’s first-ever recruit at Georgia, though his career was more defined by limited opportunity than anything. He played little over three seasons, never making a start, while Greene piled up his 42 victories.

Even Shockley’s first real opportunity, when Greene broke his thumb in the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech in 2004, didn’t go as planned as he was booed by the Samford Stadium fans after struggling.

But he delivered an SEC title in his first season as a starter — earning MVP honors along the way — and a spot in the Sugar Bowl, where he threw for 277 yards and three scores in a loss to West Virginia.

The gold standard on this list, Martin served as Manning’s backup as a freshman and a sophomore, and then one-upped the icon in 1998 by leading the Volunteers to a 13-0 record and their first national championship since 1951.

During that tile run, Martin set the NCAA record for consecutive completions in a game with 23 vs. South Carolina, a mark that would be tied by Aaron Rodgers in 2004 and broken by Dominique Davis in ’11 with 26.

Martin followed up that debut by powering the Volunteers to another BCS bowl, a loss to Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, to cap his career with a 22-3 record.

Berlin transferred from Florida to the Hurricanes and after sitting out the 2002 season, opened a much-maligned Miami career.

He orchestrated two epic comebacks — from 23 points vs. the Gators and 17 points against Louisville — and was booed and benched. But ultimately, Berlin led the ‘Canes to a 19-5 record in throwing for 5,099 yards and 34 TDs over two seasons.

He also went 5-0 against Florida and Florida State, but he may be remembered, more than anything, for not living up to the expectations after back-to-back title game appearances by Miami before he took over.

Dickey won the starting job out of camp in 1979 to follow Leach and Hewlett got a start against — a surprise move by Bo Schembechler to run the option — but Leach proved the Wolverines’ most effective choice.

He delivered a memorable moment that year, hitting Anthony Carter on a 55-yard game-winning TD against Indiana that legendary Wolverines radio voice Bob Ufer said "will be heard until another 100 years of Michigan football is played."

In all, Wangler, who underwent knee surgery between his redshirt junior and senior years, would make 14 starts over two years. He ended his career second in school history in passing yards, TDs and yards per completion, trailing only Leach. Wangler is largely credited for beginning the passing movement at Michigan that paved the way for the likes of Jim Harbaugh and Elvis Grbac.

The backup to Heisman Trophy winner Leinart for three years, Booty was an all-Pac-10 first-team pick his first year at the helm.

He would follow Leinart’s lead with two more conference titles and set a Rose Bowl record for career TD passes with a combined seven in the ’07 and ’08 games.

A preseason Heisman favorite in ’07, he faded and he suffered a broken finger and missed three games. Still, he came back to finish 20-3 as a starter. Those losses, coming in two seasons, were as many as Leinart suffered in two.

While Rauch led the Bulldogs to four straight bowl appearances and an undefeated 1946, Cook was at the controls during a rough stretch.

Georgia went 15-14-4 in Cook’s three seasons, finishing no higher than sixth in the SEC, including 11th amid a four-win 1949.

LeFevour left the Chippewas as the only player in NCAA history with 12,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing and produced a 12-win season.

Radcliff would struggle to keep Central Michigan at that same level of production, going 3-9 in each of his first two seasons as the starter. But he did join LeFevour as school’s only passers to win a bowl game, capping 2012 with a Little Caesars Bowl victory over Western Kentucky.