Oklahoma football: Breaking down Sooner QB room for 2020

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners takes a snap alongside quarterback Tanner Mordecai #15 before their game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 23, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. OU held on to win 28-24. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners takes a snap alongside quarterback Tanner Mordecai #15 before their game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 23, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. OU held on to win 28-24. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

In two weeks we will know if Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma football team are successful in landing the No. 1 quarterback in the country for OU’s 2021 recruiting class.

Related Story. Top 2021 QB recruit sets July 4th as his commitment date. light

That would add to what has been a remarkable run of uber-talented quarterbacks that have made Norman, Oklahoma, their college football proving ground in recent seasons.

Caleb Williams will be making his commitment decision on July 4. He will be choosing between Oklahoma, LSU and Maryland. Most analysts are projecting OU with the best odds of landing the No. 1 QB prospect. That would address the Sooners’ QB needs in the coming years, but they are also well stocked for the present.

For the third straight year, Oklahoma will begin the season with a new starting quarterback. While that would be problematic for most college programs, it has worked out extraordinarily well for  the Sooners.

With a different quarterback in the starting role in each of Lincoln Riley’s three seasons as head coach, Oklahoma is 36-6, has produced two Heisman Trophy winners (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) and a Heisman runner-up (Jalen Hurts) and appeared in three consecutive College Football Playoffs.

There is a very good reason why Oklahoma is considered by many to be the new “Quarterback U.” In addition to the Sooners’ recent run of success at the most important position on the field, they also had several outstanding quarterbacks earlier in the 2000s. Jason White (2003) and Sam Bradford (2008) won the Heisman Trophy, and Landry Jones (2009-12) is OU’s career passing leader in yards (16,646 yards) and touchdowns (123).

Breaking down the Oklahoma football quarterback situation for 2020.

Although it appears pretty clear cut that former five-star prospect Spencer Rattler from the class of 2019 will be the next Oklahoma quarterback, Riley has said that he will still have to win the job, with redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai being his chief competition.

If Mordecai’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was also the chief competition for Hurts last season, when Riley said the same thing: that Hurts would have to win the quarterback competition over then redshirt freshman Mordecai.

If not naming a starting quarterback prior to fall training camp sounds like a familiar refrain from Riley, it’s because it is. He did the same thing the season after Mayfield’s departure when Kyler Murray was almost the certain heir apparent to the quarterback job. That was in 2018, when Mordecai was an incoming freshman and sophomore Austin Kendall was beginning his second season after serving as primary backup to Mayfield in 2017.

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Riley refused to name Murray the starter outright. The then second-year head coach said Murray had to win it over Kendall, which almost everyone else on the planet knew was a foregone conclusion. After the 2018 season, and with Hurts having declared that he was coming to OU as a graduate transfer, Kendall apparently saw the writing on the wall and entered the transfer portal himself destined for West Virginia.

Unfortunately for Mordecai, and barring an unforeseen injury to Rattler, the sophomore signal- caller is going to be watching from the sidelines again in 2020 while Rattler runs the high-octane Oklahoma offense.

Mordecai is the more experienced of the four quarterbacks the Sooners are carrying on the 2020 roster, having seen action in eight games in his two seasons. He has completed 18 of 30 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, both TD tosses in 2019. Rattler played sparingly in just three games last season, mostly in the closing minutes when the game was clearly in hand, but did complete seven of 11 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also ran three times for 23 yards.

Perhaps the most telling signal that Rattler will be the next OU starting quarterback came in the Playoff game last season against LSU, When Hurts was taken out of the game late in the final quarter, it was Rattler and not the primary backup Mordecai who finished the game.

What follows is a brief scouting report on the four roster players who make up the Oklahoma quarterback room in the coming season.

Spencer Rattler

Rattler was a five-star prospect, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, out of Phoenix, Arizona. He was a high school All-American and was voted the Most Valuable Player in the annual Elite 11 quarterback competition, which No. 1 QB prospect Caleb Williams is participating in later this month.

Rattler’s prime skill sets are a quick release, poise in the pocket and the ability to extend plays. He has a strong arm and is extremely accurate in short, intermediate and deep throws.

Tanner Mordecai

Lincoln Riley likes Mordecai’s competitive nature. In the quarterback competition with Jalen Hurts, Riley consistently said it was a close competition. Mordecai was a four-star prospect in OU’s 2018 recruiting class out of Midway High School in Waco, Texas. He has the most game experience of the Sooner QBs on the roster.

The redshirt sophomore is a really good athlete who is comfortable both passing and running with the football. He throws the ball well and is able to do so with accuracy while on the move. When he was recruited in 2018, the Sooner coaches thought he had a Baker Mayfield-like feel.

Tanner Schaeffer

Schaeffer is a redshirt senior from Canadian, Texas, located on the eastern side of the Texas panhandle, who has played in just two collegiate games. He has thrown a total of five career passes, completing three for 18 total yards, all in 2018. He did not play at all in 2019.

Chandler Morris

Morris is the newest member of the OU quarterback group. He was rated a three-star prospect out of Highland Park High School in Dallas, the same school that produced QB Matthew Stafford of the NFL Detroit Lions. Morris is the son of Chad Morris, former Arkansas head coach who is now the offensive coordinator at Auburn. For the longest time the young Morris was thought to be headed to Arkansas, but when his dad was fired from that job, he decided to re-evaluate his recruiting situation and ended up committing to OU over Auburn.

Like all of the Oklahoma quarterbacks of recent vintage, Morris is reported to be a very good athlete. He throws well and accurately both to intermediate and deep routes, and has good quickness as a runner. He likely will redshirt this season.