The bulk of football is back, but NC State fans still have a few more days of waiting left before they can see the Wolfpack in action. During this waiting, many debates have undoubtedly popped up between friends: questions about how good this team will be, whether old teams and players were as good as we remember them, etc. We here at TechSports are no different, so we decided to put pen to paper and have four of our writers debate who NC State’s GOAT quarterback really is. Here is what they had to say.
Mike Glennon, Tristan Tucker
OK, Mike Glennon isn’t the best NC State quarterback of all-time. But, it’s pretty hard to be in that consideration considering Glennon attended the “QBU” of the ACC. Considering his accomplishments, I do strongly believe Glennon deserves to at least be in the conversation of the greatest at NC State.
Firstly, Glennon has his name plastered all over the Wolfpack record books. The quarterback ranks fifth in career passing yards, second in single-season passing yards and appears three times in the top 10 of NC State single-game passing yards, with his best outing coming in 2012 against Clemson, with 493 yards.
Glennon was also a prolific scorer, ranking third all-time in passing touchdowns during his career and fourth in all-purpose touchdowns, and in two separate seasons, he recorded 31 passing touchdowns, each ranking second all-time among NC State quarterbacks.
Glennon wrapped up his career with 7,131 yards all-time, good for fourth among all NC State players, only behind Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers and Jamie Barnette. What’s more impressive for Glennon was his ability to spread the ball around and accumulate these statistics without a 1,000-yard receiver in each of his two seasons as the starter
Tobias Palmer, Quintin Payton, T.J. Graham and Bryan Underwood all put in solid seasons under Glennon, and the team still won some impressive games in 2011 and 2012.
While Glennon is probably not the greatest NC State quarterback of all-time, it is indisputably impressive that he managed to put up such great numbers in less seasons than either Rivers or Wilson.
Russell Wilson, Ben Ellis
Russell Wilson was a “bad man” in college, and he is the best, most talented quarterback to play for NC State.
What separates Wilson from other NC State greats is his ability to both throw and run. His 8,545 career passing yards are good for fourth in school history. His 76 passing touchdowns are good for second in school history, and he also had over 1,000 career rushing yards. Watch a Russell Wilson NC State highlights video on YouTube and you’ll be mesmerized by a compilation of ankle-breaking runs and dazzling throws by the future Super Bowl-winning quarterback “from a whole pack of Badgers.”
What makes Wilson’s success even more impressive is that he did so without much future NFL talent at wide receiver. While Philip Rivers could throw to the likes of Koren Robinson and Jerricho Cotchery, both of whom had distinguished pro careers, the only NFL weapon that Wilson had at his disposal was T.J. Graham. Not to say that Wilson didn’t have anyone to throw to because he had talented wide receivers like Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams, but he didn’t have as much NFL talent at his disposal as some other NC State greats, yet he was still able to produce.
Philip Rivers, Bryan Pyrtle
Philip Rivers, besides being arguably the most notable NC State alum currently in the NFL, is also the greatest quarterback the school has ever had. Even as early as his freshman year, in 2000, Rivers led the Wolfpack to its first bowl win since 1994. Rivers continued to showcase his leadership throughout his time at NC State, winning three bowl game MVP awards and leading the 2002 Wolfpack to the first and only double-digit win season in school history.
In addition to his intangibles, Rivers lit up box scores throughout his collegiate career, finishing in the top five in the ACC in passer rating, including an NCAA-leading 170.3 rating his senior year. He also led the conference in passing yards and total yards twice in 2002 and 2003. And in 2003, he also won ACC Player of the Year. Rivers brought NC State into the national spotlight by breaking a seven-year bowl win drought and torching defenses for four consecutive seasons on a level which has not been replicated before or since.
Roman Gabriel, Kevin Sebastian
Younger fans of NC State football see the “best QB” debate as a two-horse race between Rivers and Wilson. The stats back that up, as Rivers and Wilson have long since passed Gabriel’s now archaic records. But for his time, Gabriel wasn’t just the best among his peers at the quarterback position, he was revolutionary.
In an age where offenses emphasized running the ball, Gabriel was the first quarterback in ACC history to pass for over 1,000 yards in a season. His 2,951 passing yards are still good for 17th in NC State history, and the next closest person within Gabriel’s era is Jim Rossi, with 1,604 yards from 1961 to 1963, and after that, Charlie Noggle with 946 from 1964-1968. In fact, Gabriel’s passing yard total wouldn’t be surpassed until Bruce Shaw, and even he only compiled 2,999 passing yards between 1971 and 1973.
Other records that Gabriel achieved still stand up well today: his 285 completions are still 16th in NC State history and his 19 passing touchdowns are good for 11th. Among NC State quarterbacks with over 200 passing attempts, Gabriel is 4th in rushing touchdowns with 15. He has fairly good stats for a quarterback in 2020, and they look even more amazing when you realize he posted them in 1962. Stacking up Gabriel’s two First-Team All-American accolades to Rivers’ and Wilson’s combined zero doesn’t do it justice. Having your jersey number retired before you leave school and having your retired jersey presented to you by the governor of North Carolina probably does. Without a doubt, Roman Gabriel is NC State’s greatest quarterback.