Oklahoma football: Spencer Rattler is on OU sideline, but not for long

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley walks between Spencer Rattler (7) and Caleb Williams (13) before Saturday night's game against TCU.Ou Vs Tcu
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley walks between Spencer Rattler (7) and Caleb Williams (13) before Saturday night's game against TCU.Ou Vs Tcu /

Make no mistake, the Spencer Rattler era of Oklahoma football is now history.

Ever since Rattler was replaced as the Sooners’ starting quarterback after the Texas game this season, it has been widely speculated that he was on his way out at Oklahoma.

After the Texas game, Rattler’s father said Spencer wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon and wouldn’t be making any decisions on his future plans until January or after the season is over for the Sooners.

That was almost a given, because to transfer or leave the team at this stage of the season would not really be in Rattler’s best interest. He wouldn’t be eligible to play anywhere else the remainder of this season, and by staying put he at least gets the practice reps and the opportunity to stay in game condition. It also feeds the perception that he is a team-first guy and able to stand up to adversity with class, something that will be good for his NFL resume.

What’s intriguing about this whole thing is that Rattler began the season as a preseason All-American, the Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and here’s the real stinger, he was the preseason favorite to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy — although some of that can be attributed to the fact that he was the starting quarterback at Oklahoma.

To be fair, Rattler’s replacement, Caleb Williams, is not your typical backup, other than his true freshman status. Like Rattler, Williams was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 quarterback in his class (2021). What Williams does have over Rattler is his size and ability to make big plays with his legs, which provides an added dimension to the Sooner running game.

The way Williams has played since being inserted as the OU starting quarterback, it is doubtful, barring an unforeseen injury, that Rattler will see the field the remainder of this season. Oklahoma’s schedule is heavily backloaded with the three most difficult opponents coming up this month, followed hopefully by the Big 12 championship game.

“Of course he’s not going to be (at Oklahoma) after this year. That’s a no brainer.” — Spencer Rattler’s longtime personal QB coach Mike Giovando

Everyone involved with the OU football program fully expected this would be Rattler’s final season at Oklahoma, After all, the ultimate goal of the Phoenix, Arizona, native has always been to play in the NFL, and heading into his third season at Oklahoma, he was projected as a top-10 NFL first-round draft pick, and in some mock drafts was the No. 1 overall pick.

Mike Giovando, who has been Rattler personal QB coach since he was in the third grade and still works with him, told the Arizona Republic this week:

“Spencer is doing everything he is supposed to do at Oklahoma, Just wait the season out, and if his (NFL) number is called, he’ll be ready,” he said.

“Of course, he’s not going to be (at Oklahoma) after this year. That’s a no brainer. Whether or not we declare for the NFL or find another school remains to be seen,” Giovando said. “His number one goal is to be a first-round pick one day, so he will do what’s best in the end so he can achieve that goal.”

If Rattler’s season ended today, he would rank first in the Big 12 with a completion percentage of 75 percent and fourth in total passing yards with 1,438 in seven games.

Rattler is putting on a good public face, as he should, given his end-game aspirations, and Giovando concurs that “he is doing O.K. and is handling this very well.” That is the same sentiment that has been expressed by Lincoln Riley in recent weeks.

The former Sooner starter and now backup saw action in the final eight minutes of last week’s win over Texas Tech. That was his first action in three games, and he made the most of it, completing all five of his pass attempts, including a 42-yard touchdown pass to WR Brian Darby for Oklahoma’s final touchdown in a 52-21 victory.

You have to respect the way Rattler appears to be handling everything, but you know the competitive spirt inside of him has to be churning.