© 2023 BVM Sports. Best Version Media, LLC.

Top 10 Notre Dame quarterbacks of all time

Top 10 Notre Dame quarterbacks of all time
Brady Quinn held 36 school records when his time with the Fighting Irish was up. (Credit: Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)
Rachel Huser

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Even with the most recent difficulty of losing quarterback Tyler Buchner to an injury, the University of Notre Dame hasn’t always struggled at the QB position. Since the team’s inaugural game in 1887, the Fighting Irish have featured plenty of star quarterbacks. These are the 10 best in program history.

10. John Huarte, 1962-64 

The California native played just his senior year as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. However, that season is considered to be one of the best yet in Notre Dame football history. Huarte went 9-1 on the season, throwing for 2,062 yards and 16 touchdowns. He earned All-American honors and won the Heismann Trophy. While Notre Dame didn’t win a national championship that year, it can be argued that it was the jumpstart to iconic head coach Ara Paresheghian’s brilliant 11-year run. Huarte was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

9. Jimmy Clausen, 2007-09

Despite holding a losing record as the signal caller for the Fighting Irish (Clausen went 16-18 as a starter), the California native posted some impressive numbers throughout his career and still holds several program records. He holds the record for average completions per game with 19.9 and has the lowest career interception percentage at 2.432%. He also holds the program record for the most games with over 300 passing yards with seven. Clausen also threw 160 passes between interceptions, second only to Brady Quinn who has 226. 

8. Rick Mirer

The Indiana native took over the starting quarterback spot in his sophomore year. At the end of the season, Mirer was ranked 10th in the nation in passing efficiency with 138.8, after completing 110 of his 200 passes for 1,824 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Mirer finished his junior year with a passing efficiency of 149.3, placing him eighth in the nation. He completed 132 of 234 passing attempts for 2,117 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. At the time, his 18 touchdown passes were the most in a single season by a Notre Dame quarterback. In his time with the Fighting Irish, Mirer threw for 5,997 yards, 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He was picked No. 2 overall in the 1993 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and played in the league for 12 seasons.

7. Bob Williams, 1948-50

Williams was only 19 years old when he led Notre Dame to a perfect 10-0 season and the program’s seventh national championship during his second year in 1949. He threw for 2,409 yards and 25 touchdowns in 1949-50 alone. Williams is a two-time All-American and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1951 NFL Draft. He played for the Chicago Bears for three seasons.

6. Joe Montana, 1975-78

Joe Montana only played two years as the starter for Notre Dame, but he put up some impressive numbers during those two years. Montana threw 4,121 yards, 25 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. In 1977, he led the Fighting Irish to a national championship. He then went on to become a Hall of Fame QB with the San Fransico 49ers, with whom he won four Super Bowls and was a seven-time Pro Bowler.

5. Tony Rice, 1987-89

As a quarterback, Rice was a double edge sword during the three years he played. Not only could he throw — Rice threw for 2,961 yards and 11 touchdowns — he could run too. When he finished his career, Rice ran for 1,921 yards and 23 touchdowns on 384 attempts. He averaged five yards per carry. In 1988, Rice led Notre Dame to a perfect 12-0 season and a national championship. In 1989 he was named an All-American.

4. Joe Theisman, 1968-70

At the completion of his career, Theismann held the records for passing yards with 4,411 and passing touchdowns with 31. He also became just the second Notre Dame quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards (Paul Hornung was the first). He would continue his career in the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins. Theismann was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.   

3. Brady Quinn, 2003-06

While the Ohio native never won a national championship or a Heisman trophy, he deserves a spot high on this list. His sophomore year was his best season; Quinn completed 64.9% of his passes for 3,919 yards, 32 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. When his time with the Fighting Irish was up, Quinn held 36 school records. He threw for 11,672 yards, 95 touchdowns and 929 passing completions, just to name a few. Quinn was a first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2007 NFL Draft.  

2. Angelo Bertelli, 1941-43

Bertelli threw for 2,578 yards and 28 touchdowns in less than three full seasons as the starting quarterback. Six games into his 1943 season, Bertelli got called to serve in World War II. While he was away, Notre Dame finished 9-1 on the season and won a national championship. Bertelli was a two-time All-American and was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1943- the first Notre Dame player to do so. The Italian was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.  

1. John Lujack Jr., 1943, 46-47

Lujack took over the starting spot for Bertelli when he left to go serve in World War II. In his first year, Lujack went 3-1 and brought home Notre Dame’s fourth national championship. He left for a year to go serve in the Navy, but when he returned, it was like he had never left. In 1946 and 1947, Lujack was an All-American and brought home two more national championships. He also won the Heisman Trophy in 1947. Lujack was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960. Lujack went on to play four years with the Chicago Bears.