Cal football: 15 greatest quarterbacks in Golden Bears history

Jared Goff, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Jared Goff, California Golden Bears. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Boller, California Golden Bears
Kyle Boller, California Golden Bears. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport /

Kyle Boller is the first of a handful of Cal quarterbacks to be taken in the first round of an NFL Draft. Boller played four years with the Golden Bears at the turn of a century. Though never the most accurate passer, which led to his downfall professionally later, the guy had an absolute hose for a right arm.

Boller was highly recruited coming out of high school. The Santa Clarita native got his first crack as the Cal starting job midway through his freshman season in 1999. Boller completed 38.6 percent of his passes for 1,303 yards, nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The Golden Bears weren’t the least bit good when Tom Holmoe was the head coach, so keep that in mind.

Boller’s stats would improve in his second year as a starter in 2000. He completed 46.7 percent of his passes for 2,121 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cal wouldn’t sniff a bowl game either that fall with Boller as the Golden Bears starting quarterback.

In his junior season in 2001, Boller largely stagnated at the quarterback position, as he completed 49.3 percent of his passes for 1,741 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. After another terrible season on the gridiron, Holmoe was fired. His replacement Jeff Tedford would be a transformative head coach for the Cal program in the 2000s. Boller benefited from Tedford’s arrival in Berkley in 2002.

In his final year at Cal, Boller completed 53.4 percent of his passes for 2,815 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Golden Bears finished the season above .500 at 7-5. With his powerful right arm, Boller was garnering serious attention from NFL scouts. He would be the No. 19 overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2003 NFL Draft. Boller spent a decade in the NFL mostly with the Ravens. His accuracy issues never were rectified, as he never became the franchise quarterback Brian Billick was hoping for in Baltimore.

Overall, Boller cracks the top 10 here for a few reasons. He ranks third all time in both yards and completions at Cal with 7,980 and 622, respectively. Boller is also second all time in career touchdown passes with 64. Being the first great quarterback under Tedford’s guidance at Cal certainly helps his case. That being said, a lack of winning, national award recognition and simply not being an accurate passer won’t have him climb any higher than No. 10 for the foreseeable future.