Where do OU football QBs rank in ESPN's Top-80 Quarterbacks of 2000s?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

You would think that the Oklahoma football program would be well represented in a ranking of the top-80 college quarterbacks of the 2000s, and you'd be absolutely correct.

Like everything else in college football, the role and numbers put up by the sport's most important position is constantly evolving. ESPN staff writer Bill Connelly has taken on the highly subjective and onerous task of ranking the top-80 QBs of the current century.

As an illustration of the constantly evolving nature of college quarterbacks, Connelly points out in a recent article for ESPN+ (subscription required) that only three players threw for more than 4,700 yards in a season in the 1900s, there were 10 such seasons in the opening decade of the 2000s, 16 in the 2010s, and we've already seen five in the first four seasons of the 2020s.

And the top quarterbacks in this day and age are not just throwing the football for massive yards, they're also tucking and running with it for significant yardage.

Seven former Oklahoma quarterbacks who played for the Sooners between 2001 and 2021 made Connelly's list. Two are ranked in the top 10 and three in the top 15.

Sooner fans won't be that surprised with the seven that made the list. They may take some exception to how high or low they appear on the list and perhaps with one notable Oklahoma quarterback who was left off the top-80 ranking, but overall it appears to be a fair evaluation of the best of the Sooner quarterbacks over the past two-plus decades.

It's not a big surprise that Baker Mayfield (2015-17) ranked the highest of the seven Sooner quarterbacks who made the list, but it may shock a few people that he was Connelly's No. 1 choice overall. Kyler Murray (2015-18), who won the Heisman Trophy the year after Mayfield, wasn't far behind, coming in at No. 7 in Connelly's ranking.

Here are the other Oklahoma quarterbacks who made Connelly's top-80 list of the 2000s and where they are ranked:

No. 15 -- Sam Bradford (2007-09)

No. 23 -- Caleb Williams (2021)

No. 27 -- Jalen Hurts (2019)

No. 36 -- Jason White (1999-2004)

No. 43 -- Landry Jones (2009-12)

The statistics of each of these former Sooners would speak a little differently about where several of them are ranked in Connelly's evaluation, but their individual contribution(s) to the success of the Oklahoma teams they were on may have been the bigger factor in where they fall in Connelly's ranking.

Regardless, there is one obvious omission and perhaps two, in my view, from the list. Josh Heupel led Oklahoma to an undefeated season and a national championship (2000) during the period covered. He also ranks fifth in career passing yards at OU (7,456) and sixth in touchdown passes (53). Hard to believe he didn't make this list.

The same case could be made for Dillon Gabriel. He only played two seasons at OU, but his numbers while in a Sooner uniform are among the very best to have ever played in Norman. In the 2022 and '23 seasons, Gabriel posted 6,828 passing yards, which ranks No. 6 on the Oklahoma career list, and his 55 touchdown passes ranks No. 5.