The Marshall Thundering Herd football program may be a smaller program, but it’s rich in history. There’s been a lot of great football that has come through Huntington, WV over the years. The Thundering Herd have seen a lot of great college football players and have had their share of great quarterbacks as well. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top-ten quarterbacks to ever put on the green and white. Through a mixture of stats, personal rankings, and school accomplishments, here are the ten best quarterbacks to ever play for the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Marshall Top-Ten All-Time Quarterbacks
#10 Bernard Morris:
Morris got his break as the full starter for the Thundering Herd in 2007. That year, he threw for 3,149 yards and rushed for an additional 488 yards. Morris ranks ninth in career passing yards (5,616) and currently plays in the AFL for the Washington Valor.
#9 Carl Fodor:
In 1984, Fodor led The Herd to their first winning football season since 1965. The Weirton, WV native is seventh in passing at Marshall with 6,655 passing yards and 39 touchdowns. Fodor played two seasons in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders and had a brief stint in the NFL with the Cardinals.
#8 Tony Petersen:
At his time at Marshall, Petersen set sixteen Southern Conference passing records. Petersen also set a record with 68 pass attempts in a game without throwing an interception and finished the season with 4,902 passing yards. The first true gunslinger for the Thundering Herd, Petersen threw for over 400 yards in a game several times and currently sits eighth all-time in passing yards at Marshall. is currently the offensive coordinator at East Carolina.
#7 John Gregory:
Gregory led the Thundering Herd to their first Southern Conference title in 1987. Gregory currently ranks sixth in the Marshall record books with 7,020 passing yards along with 51 career touchdowns. The Lake Worth, FL native is currently a college football and baseball analyst for ESPN. He also played baseball at Marshall and was drafted by the L.A. Dodgers in 1981, but chose to play football instead.
#6 Todd Donnan:
Being the son of former coach Jim Donnan is Todd’s claim to fame, but he was a pretty good quarterback. After all, Donnan did take Marshall to the I-AA championship for their third consecutive season in 1993. Donnan led the Southern Conference in passing efficiency in 1994. Donnan ranks fifth in school history in both touchdowns passes (61) and passing yards (7,050) and currently works in the insurance business.
#5 Erik Kresser:
Kresser played one season at Marshall after transferring from Florida, but it was one of the Herd’s best football seasons ever. He led Marshall to 15-0 record and the NCAA I-AA national championship. He developed a great on-field relationship with future NFL Hall of Fame receiver, Randy Moss. Kresser finished the season with over 3,400 passing yards and 35 touchdown passes. After his college career, Kresser had brief stints in the NFL (Bengals), NFL Europe (Berlin Thunder), and the CFL (Montreal Alouettes).
#4 Michael Payton:
Payton brought Marshall’s first Division I-AA football championship trophy to Huntington in 1992. That year, the senior threw for 3,610 yards and 31 touchdowns which in part, helped Payton win the Walter Payton award. He finished his career at Marshall with 9,411 passing yards (4th) and 69 touchdown passes (4th). Payton played one season in the AFL with the Florida Bobcats and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
#3 Rakeem Cato:
Cato currently holds the NCAA record for 46 straight games with a touchdown pass. He was the MVP of both the Military Bowl and Boca Raton Bowl. Cato is the all-time leader at Marshall with 14,079 passing yards along with a career-leading 131 touchdown passes. In 2014, Cato set a school record, 7 touchdown passes against Western Kentucky in a wild game. After college, Cato played two seasons in the CFL for the Montreal Alouettes.
#2 Byron Leftwich:
Leftwich had big shoes to fill in 2000 and stepped into the role rather nicely. He was named the Motor City Bowl MVP that year. Leftwich was another quarterback that could tear defenses up through the air, but he was also mobile. Especially for his size. In 2001, Leftwich threw for 576 yards (school record) against East Carolina in the GMAC Bowl. A game that will forever be a favorite among die-hard Herd fans. Leftwich ranks third in both passing yards and touchdowns at Marshall. He spent ten seasons in the NFL and is currently the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
#1 Chad Pennington:
Pennington accomplished so much for the Thundering Herd in his career. In 1995, he was the fourth-string quarterback and ended up leading Marshall to the Division I-AA title game. Pennington was red-shirted in 1996 with Kresser coming aboard, but he picked up right where he left off the following season. Pennington, along with Randy Moss, were the two main players that helped Marshall transition to Division I-A (FBS) so smoothly. He led the Thundering Herd to their first-ever bowl game victory against Louisville in 1998. In his senior year in 1999, Pennington was a huge contributor to Marshall going 13-0. The Herd finished tenth in the coaches poll and twelfth in the BCS Rankings that season.
Pennington’s success was due to his accuracy. He sported a 67.9 percent completion percentage in 1999. It seemed like he could place the ball anywhere he wanted to. And he could, most of the time. Pennington is currently second in Thundering Herd history with 13,143 passing yards and 115 touchdowns. He also placed fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1999 and was the MAC Player of the Year. Pennington spent eleven seasons in the NFL and racked up several awards there as well. After his career, Chad got into the Rodeo business and co-founded #10 Bucking Bulls. Along with his wife Robin, the couple founded the 1st and 10 Foundation, an organization with the mission to build stronger communities by funding programs and institutions that seek to improve quality of life throughout West Virginia, Tennessee, and the New York metropolitan area. He currently is the head football coach at the Sayre School in Lexington, KY