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Tennessee-Oklahoma preview series: What to expect from Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler

A look ahead to Spencer Rattler.

Texas Tech v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

When Tennessee makes the trip to Oklahoma this fall, the Sooners will be kicking off a new era at the quarterback position. It’s a spot that’s yielded a ridiculous amount of success over the past several seasons, seeing Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts make seamless transitions as transfers.

Heading into 2020, Oklahoma is finally set to start someone brought up in the traditional way. Spencer Rattler signed with the Sooners in 2019 as a five-star prospect and the No. 1 ranked pocket passer in the class. This fall, Lincoln Riley’s offense will become tailored to him — and likely won’t miss a beat.

“Physically, he’s not the biggest guy, which is probably the thing that kept the former five-star recruit from being in the conversation for the No. 1 overall spot in the 2019 class. He’s listed at 6’1 and came in looking like a skeleton,” said Jack Shields, site manager of Oklahoma site Crimson and Cream Machine. “The latter situation has improved considerably, as he’s added a good deal of body mass over the past year. Athletically, he’s not going to blow you away, but he’s definitely elusive enough in the pocket and can pick up chunks of yardage with his legs.”

Rattler saw action in three games for Oklahoma last year in his freshman season, completing 7 of 11 passes for 81 yards in mop-up duty. He was able to throw one touchdown, which was featured in the above video. Rattler added 23 yards on the ground in his limited action, which included the end of last year’s Peach Bowl.

“As far as arm talent is concerned, Rattler is beyond exceptional,” Shields said. “He has one of the quickest releases you’ll ever see from a quarterback at any level, which is obviously quite a departure from what we saw from Jalen Hurts. Because of this, Oklahoma’s 2020 offense will resemble the 2015-18 offenses from a schematic standpoint.”

Those offenses produced two Heisman trophy winners and two future No. 1 NFL Draft picks in Mayfield and Murray. Though we’ve yet to get an extended look at Rattler, he does seem to fit the mold of what has worked in the years before him. Now expected to take over the potent Oklahoma offense as a redshirt freshman, Rattler has a chance to put up massive numbers as he tries to get the Sooners over that first round College Football Playoff hump.

As Shields notes, Rattler hasn’t ever been lacking confidence. That much you know to be true if you watched Rattler in 2019’s ‘QB1’ on Netflix. That confidence will be on full display during the 2020 season as he gets adjusted to life as a big time college football quarterback.

“For better or worse, Rattler’s demeanor, confidence and general attitude will likely remind college football fans of Baker Mayfield both on and off the field,” Shields told us. “On the field, he justifiably has a ton of confidence in his ability. Because of this, he has displayed a tendency to take a lot of risks as a passer, which can get him into trouble. Early in his career, you’ll likely see a few head-scratching decisions (similar to what we saw with Baker Mayfield in 2015). With Riley taking him under his wing, you’ll see this improve over time.”

That could be good news for Tennessee, which will serve as his first big test as a starting quarterback. The Volunteers will come to Norman in week two, looking to take another big step forward after finishing 2019 on a six game winning streak. Tennessee returns a veteran secondary, which is now entering year three under Jeremy Pruitt.

Bryce Thompson, Alontae Taylor, Baylen Buchanan, Trevon Flowers and a host of others will be tasked with slowing down this new look passing attack. In Rattler’s first major start, they may have a few opportunities to create some turnovers. Over the last three years of high school, Rattler tossed 30 interceptions, so that’s something to keep in mind.

But at the same time, Rattler threw 93 touchdowns during that span. He’s an explosive passer that should keep Riley’s train full steam ahead at Oklahoma for at least the next couple of seasons.

“When taking his physical ability, his head coach/QB coach, his offensive system and his surrounding personnel into account, it’s easy to see him becoming a star from the jump.”

Special thanks to Jack Shields at Crimson and Cream Machine for the insight!