Perhaps this has been somewhat lost in Robert Griffin III’s precipitous demise in the NFL, but he remains, by and far away, the best quarterback to come out of Baylor.
Other players who have lined up under center for the Bears, of course, deserve honorable mention. There’s Bryce Petty, Don Trull, Seth Russell, Nick Florence, and Charlie Brewer—just to name a few. But nobody comes remotely close to matching the legacy and resume Griffin left behind during his four years headlining the Big 12 power.
For starters, no one else in Baylor history has ever taken home a Heisman Trophy. That honor belongs to Griffin alone. The school records he racked up over his four-year college career are also just absurd. He is first in passing yards and passing touchdowns by a country mile, and his body of work on the ground, as a runner, leaves him sixth in school history in total rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns.
That body of work speaks for itself. And he has the hardware to prove it. During his final season, in 2011, he won AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, the Davey O’Brien Award and the 2011 Manning award, in addition to claiming the Heisman and finishing as a consensus All-American.
Even Griffin’s NFL career helps make his case. His prime was beyond short; he never fully recovered from his injuries. But he was 2012’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and finished 15th on the NFL’s list of the top 100 players in 2013. That’s hard to do in your first two years at the pro level.
All of which makes his turbulent fall from stardom so hard to wrap our heads around. Griffin went from a bona fide MVP candidate upon entering the league to serving as the Baltimore Ravens backup for the 2019 season. Injuries have a way of derailing careers, but his plunge down the NFL’s individual ladder was steeper than any unexpected fall in recent memory.
Still, in the context of the impact, Griffin had on Baylor, none of this matters. He isn’t just the best quarterback to ever come out of the school. He’s perhaps the best player they’ve ever sent to the NFL, period. Others have had longer careers—kicker Matt Bryant, to start—but Griffin is the only one who entered the NFL on a megastar trajectory.