Marvin Graves left Syracuse as the program’s all-time leading in passing yards (8,466), completions (563), passer efficiency (142.4) and touchdown passes (48). Since, each of those records have been surpassed, but his place as one of the best signal callers in Orange history is unquestioned.
Graves was not only one of the best quarterbacks in Syracuse history, but was one of the best in the country during his collegiate career. During his junior season, he led the country in passing yards per attempt and was second in the nation in passing efficiency.
Graves was tenth in the country (and first in the Big East) in completion percentage in that same junior season and third in the conference in passing yards. His senior season, he was seventh in the nation and third in the Big East in yards per attempt. He also was fourth in the conference in passing efficiency while finishing second in passing yards.
His accolades are many and skill set was an ideal fit for the option attack. He remembers his four years as the full-time starter at Syracuse fondly.
”Wow, there’s just so many memories,” Graves said. “Definitely my redshirt freshman year, coming out of that tunnel. Playing in high school, just a year removed from playing in front of maybe four thousand or five thousand in the championship game. You’re named the starter the day before after practice. Then the next day, you’re coming out of the tunnel.
”That moment right there, I remember being afraid, nervous, a lot of emotions coming to the top. I remember saying, ‘this is my time.’ I had a confidence about myself while being nervous. That was a moment I really remember a lot.”
Graves led Syracuse to three bowl victories in four years. That includes back to back 10-2 season in 1991 and 1992, where the Orange finished 11th and 6th in the AP Poll, respectively. But there’s one game that sticks in his craw.
In 1992, one of Syracuse’s two losses was to Miami team that was ranked number one for most of the season and lost in the National Championship game to Alabama. Syracuse lost 16-10 on November 21st inside the Carrier Dome, falling just feet short when Chris Gedney could not quite get into the end zone on the game’s final play.
”Another moment, my junior year, almost knocking off the Miami Hurricanes in the Dome,” Graves said. “We ended up about two and a half feet short. That was a pass to Chris Gedney. That was a game that I can remember, I just gave everything I had and it just wasn’t enough. But to be honest with you, no one expected us to play with those guys.
”We really had a couple of drives at the end of that game where we could have knocked off the number one team in the nation. I felt like I was one of the best players in college football at that point. It wasn’t just because of me. It was because all of the hard work the coaching staff put in preparing us. The training staff getting us bigger stronger and faster. Then the comradery with the guys and wanting to win. All of that together pushed me to be the best that I felt I could be.”
Graves felt he got all he could out of his abilities during his career, crediting head coach Paul Pasqualoni and his staff for bringing out his potential. His career saw big wins over Texas, a highly ranked Boston College squad, a top-10 Colorado team, a top-five Florida bunch, Ohio State in a bowl game and many others.