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  • Writer's pictureAdam Gibby

BYU Football Top 100: No. 24 Marc Wilson - The First Great Quarterback

When we look at the Top 100 BYU Football quarterbacks, there is no question at all that there are going to be a lot of quarterbacks. In fact to this point we have covered:

  • Eldon Fortie (99)

  • Christian Stewart (97)

  • Riley Nelson (91)

  • Brandon Doman (85)

  • Taysom Hill (76)

  • John Walsh (72)

  • Kevin Feterik (63)

  • Gifford Nielsen (52)

  • LLoyd “Gus” Shields (maybe a QB) (48)

  • Gary Sheide (43)

  • Steve Sarkisian (39)

  • Virgil Carter (33)

  • Max Hall (26)

Even with that list there are still quite a few to go, including today's player the first great quarterback ever for the Cougars.

Marc Wilson - Quarterback - 1977-1979

Marc Wilson was the first BYU Quarterback to throw for more than 3,500 yards in a season.

When I say that Marc Wilson was the first great quarterback ever I say that with a giant asterisk next to it. Virgil Carter, Gary Sheide, Gifford Nielsen and Eldon Fortie were all really good quarterbacks before Marc Wilson, and even great for their time. After all, all three of them were some of the best in the entire country during their times. However, when I say the first great quarterback, I refer to having the stat line and performance that when compared to today's players and current expectations, they would raise eyebrows.

Again, this is not a knock against the other quarterbacks. They set the groundwork and showed Lavell Edwards and the rest of the nation that a team could live and win games by primarily passing the ball. Marc Wilson was just the first one to do it completely.


Impact A

It was Nielson, Gifford and Carter who laid down the foundations of the pass first style of offense. Wilson was given full permission to use that offense and he passed the test. Perhaps if he had failed as a quarterback the next QB Steve Sarkisian who was also a great quarterback, and every quarterback afterward would have been asked to run an offense like Gifford or Carter who still passed a lot but not on every down. But because of how well Wilson played, he was allowed to pass on every down and distance and it became the normal for BYU Football for decades to follow.

Statistics B

Marc Wilson struggled with injuries and he left a year early for the NFL which hurt his ranking here. No, leaving early for the NFL is not a bad thing, but in the statistics category where there is a maximum of 48+/- possible games, cutting out 12 for any reason is going to hurt. During 1978 he split snaps with Jim McMahon which speaks to the talent of McMahon who will be featured later. All of this together hurts his statistical potential.

When he did play however, he was really good throwing for 3,720 yards during his junior season. He has a QB rating of 147 and threw 29 touchdown passes. For his career, he threw for 7,637 yards with an average 8.2 yards/attempt, 61 touchdowns, and added another eight touchdowns on the ground.

Memorable Moments A-

In 1979 the Cougars went 11-1 only losing to Indiana in the Holiday Bowl by one point. That season the Cougars scored 30 or more points in ten of there twelve games. During that season, Wilson threw for 300+ yards in nine games. That was unheard of in college football and Wilson led the nation in passing yards by nearly 700 passing yards. Gifford Nielsen did it for a five game stretch, but Wilson did it all season. The most memorable moment for his career came in actually the only close win by the Cougars in 1979. Against Texas A&M Wilson found tight end Clay Brown with less than one minute to go for the go-ahead touchdown to win the game.

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