Welcome back to another edition of our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series! Exactly one week from today, the Oklahoma Sooners will host Missouri State to open the upcoming college football season. Speaking of which, a highly-anticipated era of OU Football also kicks off seven days from now. I’m talking about the start of the Spencer Rattler era!
Coming out of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona, Rattler was a five-star dual-threat prospect, and the consensus No. 1 overall QB in the 2019 recruiting class. After being named the Elite 11 MVP, participating in the All-American Bowl and starring in Netflix’s ‘QB1: Beyond the Lights’, he arrived at Oklahoma in the summer following his senior season.
Other than his play-style, the biggest difference between Rattler and the three full-time starters Lincoln Riley has coached during his tenure at OU is the fact that Rattler’s college career is beginning in Norman, while Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts all began their collegiate journeys elsewhere. That said, the significance of Riley finally starting a non-transfer QB is mostly just a talking point that has been blown out of proportion.
In 2019, Rattler was able to redshirt behind Hurts and Tanner Mordecai, but because of the updated redshirt rules, he was also able to play in up to four games while retaining a year of eligibility. While his three appearances (South Dakota, Texas Tech and LSU) came in mop-up duty, those late reps were valuable for giving his coaches film to review and highlights for fans to get excited about.
Here's a look at the first collegiate drive for 5⃣⭐️ true freshman QB Spencer Rattler.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 8, 2019
Ratter was 4-of-4 passing for 50 yards and also added 15 rushing yards on two carries.#OUDNA | #BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/CaZ2Y9gKOe
On the season, Rattler completed seven of 11 pass attempts for 81 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed the ball three times for 23 yards. At this point, those stats shouldn’t be scrutinized as seriously as how he looked in his limited opportunities. From this non-expert’s opinion, he looked quite comfortable for a true freshman. He showed good accuracy, zip, and decisiveness. Anything more than that will be gravy for the Sooners.
Going into the 2020 season, Rattler has added more mass to his frame as he’s prepared to take over as the starting QB. Today he checks in at 6’0, 205 pounds (up from 191 in 2019), and with his athleticism, that size increase should help him withstand any punishment he may be subjected to on runs or in the pocket.
Rattler’s game has drawn some lofty comparisons since he lit up the scene in high school. Some folks have compared him to Mayfield, and others have even dropped Super Bowl LIV MVP Patrick Mahomes’ name. With the kind of natural arm talent he has, along with the playmaking creativity he’s displayed on the field, it’s probably not as farfetched as one may think.
Spencer Rattler officially named as Oklahoma's starting QB this season pic.twitter.com/Hne4jwd6JT— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) September 1, 2020
There’s a reason why media members around the Big 12 voted Rattler as the Preseason Newcomer of the Year. If he lives up to his elite dual-threat billing, he has a chance to produce some gaudy numbers in Lincoln Riley’s offense. Combine that with the wins Oklahoma is expected to rack up this fall, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be one of the early favorites to reach New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. In fact, according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline, the Sooners’ signal caller has the second-best odds to take home the sport’s most prestigious individual honor, trailing only Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.
Updated #Heisman odds as of 8/20 according to @betonline_ag— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) August 22, 2020
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson 2/1
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma 9/1
D’Eriq King, Miami 14/1
Myles Brennan, LSU 14/1
Sam Ehlinger, Texas 14/1
Jamie Newman, Georgia 16/1
Mac Jones, Alabama 16/1
Chuba Hubbard, OK State 20/1 pic.twitter.com/bW2xRoHfMD
With such high expectations surrounding Rattler’s debut as a starter, it’s easy to get excited about his potential behind an experienced O-Line and the kind of offensive weapons he’ll have around him. Also, since Riley is widely considered the nation’s leading play-caller, Rattler will have every chance to succeed in a shortened college football season. All things considered, it figures to be a fun ride watching No. 7’s story unfold at Oklahoma.
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