CBS Sports 'positive' Sooner QB Jackson Arnold ready to take the leap


QB Jackson Arnold is stepping into some big shoes as he takes over the reigns of the Oklahoma offense from Dillon Gabriel this season.

Gabriel led the Big 12 last season in passing efficiency and passing touchdowns and had been a fixture at the quarterback position for the Sooners the past two seasons. But he is no longer at OU, having transferred to Oregon after last season.

Some Sooner fans may have had mixed feelings about Gabriel transferring when he could have returned for one more year, but to Gabriel's credit, he felt pretty certain that had he surprised fans and experts alike by returning to Oklahoma, Arnold himself would have opted for the transfer portal.

The immediate future of Oklahoma football, which begins an all-new era in the illustrious history of the program when the Sooners begin play in the SEC this fall, falls directly on Arnold's shoulders. Although all the hype and expectations for the former five-star recruit and 2022 Gatorade National Player of the Year have been nothing but glowing, his college career to date consists of appearances in seven games and just one start (the Sooners' Alamo Bowl game last season against Florida State).

CBS Sports staff writer Clint Brewster is one college football expert who believes Arnold is the real deal and rates the presumptive Oklahoma starter as one of three second-year quarterbacks who he places in a category of "absolutely positive will take the leap" this coming season.

Here is an excerpt of what Brewster had to say about Arnold:

"Arnold was a five-star in the 2023 class, and his ability pushed out Dillon Gabriel (one of college football's most prolific passers last season) to Oregon...Arnold started the bowl game for Oklahoma last season, and there were definitely growing pains, but there were also some magnificent plays where the (Denton) Texas native displayed wonderful footwork, escapability and an explosive arm."

The good news for Arnold and Sooner fans is that the OU offense is not a one-man show. The Sooners have plenty of versatility and talent at the running back position and one of the deepest and best wide receiving corps of any team in the country. So Arnold will be surrounded by a wealth of talented weapons and playmakers.

If Arnold pans out as many think he will, Oklahoma could surprise plenty of people, despite having one of the most difficult schedules in college football in the 2024 season.