Before Matthew Stafford, there was Eric Zeier. While Georgia has had a long line of great college quarterbacks, few were as big of blue-chips coming out of high school as Stafford was out of Highland Park, Texas in 2006 and Zeier out of Marietta, Georgia in 1991. Though Stafford has become a star in the NFL for the Detroit Lions, we don’t dive Zeier the love we probably should.
Zeier was ahead of his time, graduating a semester early from Marietta High School, just so that he could take part in spring practices in 1991 at UGA. This helped Zeier earn the starting job in October of his freshman year and he never looked back. Zeier started every game for Georgia in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, becoming one of the most prolific passers in SEC history.
In four years, Zeier completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 11,153 touchdowns, 67 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. He left Athens with 67 school records and 18 SEC records, most notably the career yardage total. But despite a 4-0 record vs. in-state rival Georgia Tech, Georgia never really won enough under Zeier’s head coach Ray Goff. It’s a big factor going against Zeier for sure.
Though he handed the ball off to Georgia’s last Heisman finalist in running back Garrison Hearst in 1992, the Dawgs were largely at a talent deficiency when Zeier played for them. So many quarterbacks after him like Stafford, David Greene, Aaron Murray and Jake Fromm won more prolifically than him. Zeier carved out a six-year NFL career with three different franchises.