Welcome back to another installation in our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series! There are 15 days until the Oklahoma Sooners open the upcoming college football season. With that in mind, I want to highlight a player who’s been competing — as futile as the effort may seem in each instance — for the starting job at the team’s premier position since the day he arrived on campus. I’m talking about redshirt sophomore QB Tanner Mordecai!
As a four-star dual-threat signal caller from the 2018 recruiting class, Mordecai signed with OU out of Midway High School in Waco, Texas. In fact, he chose to come to Oklahoma over offers from the Baylor Bears, Georgia Bulldogs, Oklahoma State Cowboys and others. That right there is proof that this ball player has some real talent to his game, and he isn’t afraid of the competition.
Now entering the 2020 season, Mordecai has filled out his 6’2, 211-pound frame, and he’s gained invaluable experience while studying the game under the tutelage of Lincoln Riley. He’s also learned from some of college football’s finest, namely Heisman Trophy winner/No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray and national champion Jalen Hurts.
Although he made two separate appearances in 2018, Mordecai was able to take advantage of the NCAA’s revamped redshirt rule that allows a player to play in up to four games without losing that year of eligibility. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, he backed up Hurts for the majority of the season and saw considerably more reps than the previous campaign. His most extensive action came in Week Two against the South Dakota Coyotes, where he connected with Jadon Haselwood and Theo Wease for the first two touchdown passes of his career.
Tanner Mordecai was impressive against South Dakota showing his strong arm off the bench.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 8, 2019
The Waco, Texas native finished 6-for-8 passing with 114 yards and two touchdowns.#OUDNA | #BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/d2VXr3v0RH
From watching the handful of throws Mordecai has attempted at the collegiate level, it’s clear that he’s able to put some zip on the ball. Coming out of high school, he also produced much of his offense with his legs in addition to his arm. In his limited opportunities at OU, he’s shown flashes of that ability in his game, with potentially more chances to showcase his entire skillset this fall.
For his career thus far, Tanner Mordecai has completed 18 of 30 passes (60 percent) for 244 yards and a pair of TDs. He’s also added 16 rushing yards on four carries. Currently, he’s battling redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler for the honor of becoming Oklahoma’s next starting QB, a title that will presumably go to the latter.
With the season kicking off in just over two weeks, Riley has yet to officially name a starter, but most expect Rattler to ultimately win the job. If that happens, that won’t diminish Mordecai’s importance to the offense. Rattler will need him to continue pushing him to be his best, and OU will need Mordecai to be fully prepared at a moment’s notice should anything shake up the QB depth chart, especially as college football attempts to navigate its ever-evolving landscape amid a global pandemic.
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