Oklahoma football: Lincoln Riley names Spencer Rattler starting QB

Surprise! Surprise! Redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler has officially been named the fourth Oklahoma football starting quarterback in as many seasons.

Head coach Lincoln Riley made the announcement Tuesday as part of his weekly press conference. As has been his custom in the four seasons he has held the coaching reins at OU, Riley waited until right before the season started to reveal his decision on the starting quarterback.

Rattler has been the presumptive replacement for the departed Jalen Hurts ever since he came in for Hurts late in the College Football Playoff loss to LSU last season and finished the game, although Riley kept insisting that the former No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 national recruiting class had to win the position in competition with redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai, who served as the Sooners’ primary backup at the position last fall.”Ther

“Spencer has played very well and certainly (is) deserving of it,” Riley said. “I just felt like there was enough separation (in the quarterback competition) right now.”

When OU opens the 2020 season on Sept. 12 at home against Missouri State, it will be Rattler’s first collegiate start. He played in three games last season, completing 7 of 11 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. In high school in Phoenix, Arizona, Rattler set an Arizona state record with 11,083 total passing yards and 116 touchdown passes. He also ran for more than 1,000 yards and scored 14 rushing touchdowns.

This will be Riley’s fourth season as head coach of the Sooners, and a different quarterback has drawn the starting assignment in all four seasons.

Rattler is preceded by back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners (Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray a year later, in 2018) and a Heisman runner-up (Jalen Hurts last season). Both Mayfield and Murray were No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft, and Hurts was a third-round selection. That’s pretty impressive company, to say the least for Rattler to follow.

Riley said it’s difficult to compare Rattler to this three predecessors. There are bits and pieces of them all,” he said. “Probably somewhere in between Baker and Kyler a bit.

“He seems to always have a lot of confidence, regardless of the situation he is in, which I think is key for anybody at that position.

Rattler won the quarterback competition for the starting spot, but it really wasn’t much of a competition. Mordecai suffered an undisclosed  injury early in preseason training camp, which commenced in late July, and missed about 70 to 75 percent of preseason camp, according to Riley.

The missed time “obviously limited his true opportunities to really go play his best ball and have a shot at it (starting quarterback). But that’s football,” the OU head coach said.