Stats: 21-of-52, 196 yards
Career highlight: In the era of simply existing in the two seconds between taking the ball from center and handing off to Steve Wadiak, Pasky ran for a touchdown against The Citadel.
Stats: 49-of-121, 716 yards, 4 TDs
Career highlight: A five-game starter before Johnny Gramling took over, Balka ran in a score in a 20-0 win over Clemson in 1951.
Stats: 150-329, 2,007 yards, 18 TDs
Career highlight: The Gamecocks’ first 2,000-yard passer, Gramling never had a losing season. His yardage and touchdown totals were career records at the time.
Stats: 118-213, 1,388 yards, 16 TD
Career highlight: Won 16 games as a starter, and directed a 95-yard drive to beat nationally ranked Army in his first varsity game.
Stats: 17-25, 273 yards, 5 TD
Career highlight: ACC Player of the Year at halfback in 1958, Hawkins was the most accomplished of several players who could occasionally throw the ball in a run-based system.
Stats: 13-23, 177 yards
Career highlight: Splitting time with Hawkins and five other ball-throwers, Bunch attempted and completed the most passes.
Stats: 17-44, 180 yards, 2 TDs
Career highlight: Was the majority starter for a 6-4 year, the last winning season USC would have until its only conference title a decade later.
Stats: 17-38, 190 yards, 1 TD
Career highlight: He switched out with Jim Costen in the Gamecocks’ 3-6-1 season (which ended with two straight wins).
Stats: 76-193, 894 yards, 3 TDs
Career highlight: Sometime-starter under Warren Giese, he took over the position when Marvin Bass was hired.
Stats: 211-441, 2,561 yards, 16 TDs
Career highlight: The strong-armed Georgian had great numbers, but threw twice as many TDs as he had college wins. He was a running back for Dallas and played in two Super Bowls, winning one; then coached four teams to Super Bowls, but never won.
Stats: 199-422, 2,486 yards, 5 TDs
Career highlight: The QB of USC’s lost title team (the Gamecocks tied Duke for the 1965 ACC championship, but were ruled ineligible because of improper benefits paid to two players). Fair also played through a coaching change (Bass to Paul Dietzel).
Stats: 355-672, 4,916 yards, 34 TDs
Career highlight: The only man on the planet who can say he quarterbacked USC to a conference championship, Suggs has his name all over Gamecock history. He held career records at the time, and he never lost to Clemson (even when his freshman team played the Tigers).
Stats: 104-229, 1,313 yards, 3 TDs
Career highlight: The QB for the first year as an independent. The Gamecocks went 6-5 that year and 5-2 against ACC opponents.
Stats: 61-117, 884 yards, 11 TDs
Career highlight: Replaced Bill Troup against Memphis State and didn’t look back, piloting USC to all four wins of the season.
Stats: 231-455, 3,440 yards, 26 TDs
Career highlight: His arm was overshadowed by his legs, especially when combined with the tailback tandem of Kevin Long and Clarence Williams. Grantz piled up over 5,000 yards of total offense and won a truckload of games – none more memorable than the 36-point whuppin’ he put on Clemson his senior year.
Stats: 192-375, 2,460 yards, 13 TDs
Career highlight: The famous “Sunshine,” although Hollywood took a lot of liberties with his high-school days, Bass had modest success after Grantz departed. The Gamecocks went 11-12 and kept coming up short against the biggest opponents.
Stats: 225-455, 2,971 yards, 20 TDs
Career highlight: A strong but overlooked career. Harper was under center for 21 wins, including 15 straight at home. But there was that big guy in the backfield, No. 38 …
Stats: 155-326, 1,946 yards, 16 TDs
Career highlight: Stuck between the departure of the greatest player in program history and the arrival of one of the best coaches in program history, Beckham labored under Jim Carlen and Richard Bell. There were 10 wins, but some of the losses (Pacific, Furman) glared.
Stats: 133-271, 2,527 yards, 13 TDs
Career highlight: Joe Morrison switched to a veer offense and Mitchell directed a fleet of tailbacks, leading to a five-win season in ’83 (with a win over the other USC) and then that fabled Black Magic season of 1984. While Mitchell’s successor got most of the spotlight, Mitchell started the majority of the year.
Stats: 107-208, 1,596 yards, 7 TDs
Career highlight: The “Comeback Kid” of 1984 couldn’t duplicate the magic in his lone season as starter, USC slipping to five wins. He did leave a blueprint for the next guy, though – throw it to the guy wearing No. 2.
Stats: 747-1,350, 9,953 yards, 49 TDs
Career highlight: Morrison revamped the offense to suit the rifle-armed top recruit in the country, and Ellis didn’t disappoint. Flinging passes to Sterling Sharpe and Company, Ellis spurred the Gamecocks into the national conversation, winning 24 games and setting nearly every passing record in the book.
Stats: 373-634, 4,896 yards, 28 TDs
Career highlight: Coming with Sparky Woods from Appalachian State, Fuller had two fine seasons unrepresented by the win total. Reeling from Morrison’s death and scandals that rocked the university and athletic department, USC had one winning season with him at QB.
Stats: 753-1,245, 8,782 yards, 62 TDs
Career highlight: Coming so soon after Ellis, Taneyhill took over a lot of his records but couldn’t quite match the overall win total of his predecessor. Still, the image Taneyhill is idolized for remains – cocky, talented and fearless with that mane of blonde hair spilling over his nameplate. And of his wins, two were at Clemson and another was USC’s first bowl.
Stats: 432-796, 5,681 yards, 38 TDs
Career highlight: Even the great Taneyhill felt the curse of being the starting QB, as his backup for a year was the most popular guy on campus. A-1 played well and went on to a decent NFL career, winning a Super Bowl ring with the Giants. But at USC, his three years were the end of the Brad Scott era, falling from six wins to five to one.
Stats: 454-861, 5,652 yards, 28 TDs
Career highlight: USC loves a good redemption story, and found another as Petty rose from an injured QB during a winless season to a two-time bowl champion and 17-game winner. Petty was a perfect leader for a team seeking respect – quiet, understated, doing his job and letting others take credit for what he directed.
Stats: 100-180, 1,334 yards, 7 TDs
Career highlight: A standout athlete with arm and legs (he also led the Gamecocks in rushing that year), Jenkins was NFL-drafted on defense after starting his final two games in the secondary. He was a solid QB, but went down in history due to a bad-luck play – if Andrew Pinnock catches an option pitch, USC beats Georgia, goes bowling and David Pollack is just another guy.
Stats: 265-504, 3,459 yards, 18 TDs
Career highlight: “The Thrilla from Camilla” never had that one game that could have meant a difference in his legacy, although he still holds the two longest pass completions in school history. Pinkins was under center for five losses by four points or less over two seasons, and never could get a true handle on the job. Maybe if he’d just gripped the laces.
Stats: 165-293, 2,882 yards, 16 TDs
Career highlight: He came at a strange time – signing with a run-based coach but still taking over at QB, then seeing a coaching change to a pass-happy coach who still had two players above him the entire 2005 season. Newton, though, was too good for Steve Spurrier to ignore for long – he was inserted into the role in 2006 and responded with a terrific season, helping guide the Gamecocks to eight wins.
Stats: 482-794, 5,992 yards, 38 TDs
Career highlight: Playing QB for Spurrier can be a notoriously fickle effort, and to his credit, Mitchell sank below his talent level plenty of times before rising back to meet them. He just never quite elevated that level, although he was responsible for plenty of wins.
Stats: 270-479, 3,210 yards, 23 TDs
Career highlight: He had some very strong performances and some frustrating lows, never able to get comfortable under center. Part of that was Spurrier’s impatience, part of that was folks cheering for the new guy and part of it was Smelley doubting himself, but it seemed a merciful decision when he decided to play baseball at Alabama after the 2008 season.
Stats: 589-1,021, 7,597 yards, 47 TDs
Career highlight: Garcia wasn’t a bad kid – he just enjoyed the non-field life of being a star QB too much. He won some huge games and mostly lived up to his immense promise from high school, but his other exploits forever leave him as “what might have been.”
Stats: 480-733, 6,074 yards, 56 TDs
Career highlight: As steady as the previous guy was wild, Shaw won more games and was responsible for more touchdowns than anybody before him. He never lost at Williams-Brice Stadium, drove USC to its greatest period of success and left the program as the best quarterback the Gamecocks have ever seen.
Stats: 390-669, 5,391 yards, 40 TDs
Career highlight: The comparisons to Petty (Boiling Springs High alums) were rampant, but Thompson carved out his own place, first as a part-time QB with a knack for heroics and then as a full starter. He set the school’s single-season passing record and beat the big boys during his career – Florida, Georgia, Clemson and even Michigan.
Call it a career
A look at USC’s career passing leaders: