First, I wanted to thank my partners in crime, Billy Minor and Russell McLean. This list of top 20 was a complete team effort. Having to be able to have guys on this staff who actually played with some of these great players and saw first hand how truly great they were. We our proud of our list and our proud of the great tradition of quarterbacks that have donned the blue and gold.
Here is the list.
20. Terry Mayo 2007-2008
Mayo commanding offenses as a Semi-Pro and as a Lion.
“Mayo came to Commerce from Reedly Junior College as the nation’s top rated JUCO Quarterback after having spent time as a professional Baseball player. At 29, Mayo wowed crowds with his athletic ability and his strong arm. A two time All-LSC Second Team pick in 2007 and 2008, Mayo helped the lead the Lions to the 2007 Lone Star Conference North Division title. He threw for 3,073 yards and 23 passing TD’s in 2 years of work. Mayo made a huge difference when he was on the field and although injuries limited his success, he nevertheless showed himself to invaluable to the Lion offense in the late 2000’s. After Commerce, he played Arena Football with the Allen Wranglers and later played Semi-Pro Football with the North Texas Longhorns, leading them to a 14-0 record and a Texas United Football League Title.” -Brian Pate
19. Bruno Briones-1982-1984
“It is hard to back up an All-American and Future Starting NFL QB, but Bruno Briones made the most of his time in the 1984 season and also at multiple times in the 1983 season. Briones backed up Kyle Mackey during that 1983 LSC title season, but came in that year multiple times as Mackey battled injuries to help the Lions cement big wins. 1984 was all his year as he led the Lions to a second place finish in the LSC while throwing for 1,839 yards and 15 TD passes to nab All-LSC Second Team Honors. Despite not having a pro career, Briones is A man who does not get his due because of the amount of great QB’s that have played for Commerce, but certainly a top 20 player.” -Brian Pate
18. Deric Davis-2012-2014
Deric Davis making plays his Senior year, and as Starting Quarterback (and reigning Rookie of The Year for the Alberta Football League) for the Fort McMurray Monarchs.
“Deric Davis was not your typical QB. He was a shorter than average guy but played with a huge heart. In Commerce’s first nationally televised game he made a ESPN top 10 play on an 80 yard run. He was always capable to go the distance either thru the air or on the ground. Probably one of the biggest over-achievers on the list. I had a old teammate and mentor named Jeff Dotie who told me about Davis and his greatness. He was not kidding. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him work. He was a lunch pail type of player for sure. His accolades and accomplishments include the following:
17. Jim Dietz-1968-1970
“Jim Dietz was one of the first set of Ernest Hawkins era quarterbacks that set the bar for winning championships and leading potent offenses. With Dietz, Hawkins found himself a classic pocket passer who could read defenses with a tall stature and a strong arm. The New York native came to Commerce and threw for 3,717 yards and 39 career passing touchdowns in 2 years as a starter. His moment to shine was during the 1969 season finale against Stephen F. Austin State. Down by 7, Dietz orchestrated a magnificent drive that saw him make two pinpoint accurate throws, at first to score the potential game tying touchdown, and then the two point conversion for the win. A two time All-Lone Star Conference pick and Lone Star Conference Champion, Dietz was the first quarterback in the history of the program to throw for 2,000 yards in a season. After his days in Commerce were over, he spent some brief time in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles before returning home to upstate New York to Coach Football on the High School level. Dietz passed away in 2001.” –Brian Pate
16. R.A. Hitt-1930-1934
R.A. Hitt was the first Lion Quarterback to establish a record of success at the position.
“RA Hitt was the first Lion Quarterback to thrive and succeed. The game was much different 80 years ago as one might imagine, but Hitt led the Lions of East Texas State Teacher’s College to championships and success with toughness and resolve. Hitt took over and led the Lions to back to back LSC Championships in 1933 and 1934. He was voted best Quarterback in the Conference in 1933 and 1934. He was the first, and to date, only QB to ever lead a Lion team to an undefeated season, at 8-0 for the year. Hitt had the ability to run the ball following blockers and finding open field, and throwing the occasionally called long ball. One of the first Lion greats who played the game vastly different in a vastly different time than the present.”-Brian Pate
15. Mike Meador-1987-1991
Mike Meador donned the ET blue and gold as one of the best Back-Up QB’s in the entire country, and was always ready to play and lead the Lion offense. Recently, he was head Coach at Lindale High School, near Tyler and now is at Sulphur Springs.
“Mike Meador could have possibly been the best QB in Lion history if he hadn’t played his entire career paralleled to the equally great Bobby Bounds. Therefore you won’t find his numbers up at the top of any categories. But those who played with and saw him play can attest to the reason he is rated so high…including Bounds. One thing you could count on each year was Meador having a career game against Central Oklahoma. In perhaps his best game he came in relief in the 2nd quarter and helped lead us to a record 660 yards of offense one year. One of his many during his career. He even came in after his playing days and coached the WR’s during my last season where we had the LSC offensive Player Of The Year and 2 First Team All-LSC receivers. His accolades and accomplishments include the following:
14. Tyrik Rollison-2013-2014
Rollison was unstoppable during the 2014 Season. On The Right, playing for the San Angelo Bandits.
“Tyrik Rollison’s football journey started 30 minutes east of Commerce in Sulphur Springs, winning a state title. He then journeyed to SEC power Auburn, then to FCS contender Sam Houston, and then Juco Football at Tyler Junior College. He made his return to Northeast Texas and with his tremendous play, he led the Lions to their first LSC title outright since 1990 during the 2014 season and led the nation in total offense and passing offense. A second team all LSC selection, Rollison left Commerce with the single season passing record until it was broken by Luis Perez. His play also brought the Lions their first postseason victory in 24 years with a 72-21 win over East Central Oklahoma in the Heart of Texas Bowl. Rollison was an integral part of the revival of the Lion program. He played in the Indoor Football League for the San Angelo Bandits from 2014-2016. “- Brian Pate
13. Harrison Stewart-2013-2015
Harrison Stewart: A very underrated but fantastic QB who made his unit better every time he was on the field.
“A big, tall, strong passer, much in the mold of a Mackey or Wilson, Stewart was one of the early stars of the Colby Carthel era. A rocket for an arm, and tough as nails, Stewart was a leader who brought the Lions along quickly. An LSC Champion in 2014 and 2015, Stewart was Second Team All LSC in 2015, as well as Honorable Mention All American. He helped establish the current Lion culture of excellence, leading the Lions to their first NCAA Playoff appearance and success in many years. He finished his career in Commerce in the Top 10 in career passing yards, single season passing yards, and touchdown passes in a single season and career.”-Russell McLean
12. Bobby Fox-1953-1955
“One of the earliest stars in Commerce, Fox was All LSC in 1954 and 55, as well as a conference champion. A Tangerine Bowl winner in 1953, Fox was also Honorable Mention All American in 1954, and a first teamer in 1955. After his playing days, Fox found success in coaching, of all things, defense. He was an assistant for Ernest Hawkins from 1971 to 1982, serving as Defensive Coordinator for the National Championship team of 1972. In 1982, he moved on to Tarleton State, serving has head coach in 1983 and 84, before his untimely death in 1986. He was the original architect of the Blue Gang defensive mindset.”-Russell McLean
11. Mike Trigg -1985-1988
Trigg as a Freshman Starter at ET, and as head coach in the Arena Leagues.
LSC Second Team-1988 and 1985
LSC Runner up-1988
QB’d # 2 Team in the Nation in 1988
# 10 In Passing TD’s School History
Arena Leagues-2 Time Arena Bowl Champion with the Detroit Drive
AFL Coach of the Year 2001
20 Year Coaching Career in the AFL-Billy Minor
10. Clint Dolezel-1992-1993
Dolezel went from scoring touchdowns at Memorial Stadium, to tossing them as one the greatest Arena League Quarterbacks of All Time.
“Clint Dolezel was a prototypical QB. Had a shotgun for an arm and read defenses like they were a Dr. Seuss book. He was a JUCO transfer and once he wrestled away the starting spot he never looked back as he led the team to an 8-3 record and top 15 ranking in 92. He only continued to get better from there as he went on to have a Hall Of Fame arena league playing and coaching career. Would have been great to see the humble giant lead the Lions to a playoff appearance in 92 but the cards didn’t fall in his favor. He still left an incredible mark on future qbs like Cole Cayce as Bounds had done as his position coach coming into Commerce. Clint has an impressive list of accolades and accomplishments including the following:
2 Time All-LSC Second Team-1992 and 1993
LSC Runner-up-(1992), Snow Bowl Captain (1993)
Head Coach at Philadelphia Soul 2013-Present
Played for 4 Arena League Teams from 1995-2008
3 Time Arena Bowl Champion (2001 as a Player, 2016 and 2017 as Head Coach)
Ranked 8th Best AFL Player of All Time
Arena League Hall Of Fame Inductee 2012”-Billy Minor
9. Terry Skinner-1974-1977
Terry Skinner, the original ET Gunslinger.
“Few Lion Quarterbacks have been able to start at the position for more than about 2-3 years, but Terry Skinner started for all 4 of years. He was able to do that because Ernest Hawkins wanted a man under center who could throw the football effectively, and Skinner did so. He threw for over 1,000 yards every year he was a starter, which was notably rare in those days. His Senior year he threw for 1,942 yards and 14 TD’s to go along with First Team All-Conference Honors and was a NAIA and Associated Press All-American during the 1977 season. His record as a starter was 27-14-1 and every year had the Lions in contention for an LSC title. Skinner is also currently 4th in all time passing yards and 7th in career passing TD’s. He was the architect of the game winning drive against Texas A&I that snapped the Hoggies 46 game winning streak in 1977, a year that A&I would make a run for the NAIA title. Skinner never had a pro career, but after getting to meet him at Coach Hawkins’ funeral, I was able to get to know him and asked him a few questions. Although there was interest shown by pro scouts, Skinner entered Christian ministry and he has been a pastor in East Central Texas for many years, and from what I heard at Coach Hawk’s funeral, he is a fine pastor, and an all-time great Lion QB.”-Brian Pate
8. Cole Cayce-1992-1996
Cole Cayce lit up the opposition en route to one of the best seasons for a Lion QB.
Lone Star Conference First Team-1996
NCAA Division II Playoff Qualifier-1995
# 6 Single Season Passing Yards
# 8 Single Season Passing TD’s
Texas Terror-1997 (Arena Football League)”-Billy Minor
7. Will Cureton-1970-1973
Will Cureton led the Lions to the National Title in 1972. Passing fancy in Commerce on the left, and a Rookie Picture with Cleveland on the right.
“The quarterback of Ernest Hawkins first and only NAIA title in 1972. Cureton was a smart, capable quarterback who called his own plays. Balancing a calm presence with the knowledge of knowing when to take risks, Cureton was an outstanding three year starter for the Lions, winning all LSC honors in 1972. He enjoyed NFL success as well, starting two years for the Cleveland Browns.”-Russell McLean
6. Kyle Mackey-1980-1983
Kyle Mackey was known as an athletic roll out passer, and that translated to nabbing a starting quarterback slot in the NFL.
“Facing the unenviable position of taking over for a legend in Wade Wilson, Mackey made the position his own. A tall, strong pocket presence, Mackey was the perfect fit for the Hawkins system. Mackey was a backup on the 1980 semifinalist team before taking over, and when he ended his illustrious career, he was in the Top 10 in career and single season passing yards and touchdowns. All LSC Honorable Mention in 1981, and first team in 1982, Mackey enjoyed an NFL career with the with the Dolphins, Jets, and Cardinals, starting for the Jets and Dolphins, as well as backing up NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino. He played in the Arena League form 1990-1994, and now serves as a coach at Silsbee High School.”-Russell McLean
5. James Grey-1951-1953
James Grey, the first great Lion passer.
“James Grey might be the best QB you have never heard of. Grey came to Commerce in the early 1950’s and had an unbelievable stretch in those 3 years. 3 Lone Star conference titles and two Tangerine Bowls Championships (one was shared with Arkansas State). His 3 years as starter are just staggering for someone playing in the 1950’s. 3,620 passing yards with 51 TD passes. Add that to Second Team All-LSC Honors in ’51 and ’52 to go with First Team All-LSC Honors in 1953. Add that 3 All-American Honors from 51-53 and a 30-2-1 record as a starter, and you have a true all time great. His early passing numbers were so stout that his school record for most TD passes in a career was not broken until this past year, A record that stood for 65 years. He is still # 2 on that list # 5 for TD passes in a single season. He spent some time in the NFL with The Eagles and shortly with the Detroit Lions.”-Brian Pate
4. Sam McCord-1957-1959
Stumblin’ Sam running the powerful T-Formation on the left, and his NFL Rookie Card in 1960 where he played for the Raiders.
“Stumblin’ Sam McCord was the first Lion Football folk hero. His gritty play plus his ability to command an offense that called upon him to run the ball and throw the ball effectively. His awards in Commerce were plentiful and well earned. He was a 3 time All-LSC First Team Selection from 1957-1959, Honorable Mention All-American in 1957 and First Team All-American in 1958 and 1959. He also led the Lions to two Tangerine Bowl Victories in 1957 and 1958. After his time at ET was done, McCord was drafted by the Oakland Raiders and spent time in the NFL, including logging a few last minute starts for the Raiders, becoming the first Lion to start in the NFL. After retiring from pro football, McCord came back to Commerce where he worked for the University and was on the first KETR Broadcast team for covering Lion football. The first “folk hero” in Lion history.”-Brian Pate
3. Bob Bounds-1987-1991
Bob Bounds was a danger either throwing, or running. On the right, as starting QB for the Cleveland Thunderbolts of the Arena Football League.
“Bobby was one of the most remarkable players in school history. His confidence was contagious and there wasn’t many who played with more heart. The state champ from Picayune Mississippi came in highly regarded. He was Bret Favre before we had a Bret Favre. An excellent playmaker who grew each season with hard work leading the Lions to their first two NCAA quarterfinals appearances and and an LSC title. He left as the all-time leading passer and held it for 26 years until Perez showed up. He also set a stadium passing record at D1 NW Louisiana breaking Bobby Heberts mark. He also has the coveted distinction of throwing me my first pass of my career…haha! Always willing to give back to his alma mater, Bobby is a certified true Lion4Life. His real accolades and accomplishments include the following:
2. Wade Wilson-1977-1980
Commerce Native Son Wade Wilson was all-everything in Commerce, and an All Pro and Super Bowl Champion in the NFL.
“Quarterback Royalty in Commerce. In many corners (including mine), arguements could be made for Wilson being the best ever. He was one of those people on whom God smiled, and said, “you shall be a quarterback.” And what a quarterback he was. NAIA and LSC first team in 1980, First Team All LSC in 1979, Wilson is in the top 10 in every major passing category. He led the Lions to an LSC runner up finish in 1979 and the NAIA Semifinals in 1980. A member of the LSC All Decade team of the 80’s. Drafted in the seventh round by the Minnesota Vikings, Wilson was an All Pro in 1988, taking the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. Wilson went on to an 18 year NFL career with the Vikings, Saints, Raiders,and Cowboys. He achieved ultimate success in 1995 with Dallas, serving as Troy Aikman’s backup en route to a title in Super Bowl XXX.”-Russell McLean
- Luis Perez-2015-2017
Luis Perez, voted the best by Lion fans and former players.
“Quite simply put, the best to wear the blue and gold. The precision of a surgeon, coolness under pressure, patience beyond measure. Perez hit the gound running in 2015 as a redshirt learning the system, and never slowed down. Back to back LSC titles in 2015 and 2016, along with first team all LSC,and Honorable Mention All American, and a Harlon Hill Award nominee. In 2017, he followed it with a first team all LSC showing, LSC and National Offensive Player of the Year. Perez was a consensus first team All American, and the Lions first Harlon Hill Award winner. He is the school’s all time leader in all major passing categories, and helped bring home A&M-Commerce’s first National Championship in 45 years.” – Russell McLean