Lincoln Riley names Spencer Rattler Oklahoma football's new starting quarterback – – Oklahoma

When Lincoln Riley offered Spencer Rattler following his freshman season at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Ariz., all roads led to this moment.

The recruiting playbook had Rattler taking over the reins to Riley’s offense at this very point in time after sitting out last season and learning from what was expected to be Kyler Murray’s two-year run at quarterback.

We all now know Rattler ended up sitting behind graduate transfer Jalen Hurts. That makes no difference to the timeline. Because we’re here. Riley announced Tuesday afternoon Rattler will be OU’s starting quarterback for the 2020 season opener next weekend vs. Missouri State (6 p.m., PPV).

“He seems to always have a lot of confidence, regardless of the situation that he’s in, which I think is key for anybody at that position,” Riley said. “I think his confidence and belief in himself and his teammates, I think that’s the thing that I would say stands out the most about him right now.

“He’s never been afraid of the moment, which, again, for young players, that’s a key thing and I don’t know that that’s really coached. That’s just something that guys either have or they don’t at a young age.”

Rattler beat out redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Mordecai for the position. As with anything else about 2020, it was an unusual competition. Riley declined to comment on whether Mordecai has missed time because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but he did say Mordecai has missed nearly 75 percent of preseason camp.

Mordecai is healthy now and freshman Chandler Morris is available, too, but now? It’s officially time for the Rattler era to begin in Norman.

“He’s a guy who has grown up,” Riley said. “He’s addressed some of the areas that he needed to improve on not that he doesn’t have a lot to grow. He obviously has a ton. I think they’ve appreciated that about him. I really think that our team has a lot of confidence with that room.

“I feel like our guys don’t really miss a beat with anybody in that room. It’s a credit to those guys. Spencer has done a good job. He’s been himself. He kind of is who he is on the field and I think they respect that about him and the way he goes about his business.”

A lot of people love the comparison game, on and off the field. When you have Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts as the alpha dog in the room the last three years, those personalities are incredibly distinct.

Rattler, said Riley, is somewhere along the lines of Murray and Mayfield, but it was Hurts who helped show Rattler the ropes throughout the 2019 season.

“It was a great learning experience for him,” Riley said. “They’re too very different personalities but there’s still so much you can take, especially (from) a guy who’s been in the fire as much as Jalen had.

“I think the time is always important for a young quarterback just to kind of see how this thing works and how you install and how you game plan and what’s this process like and how you lead and the ups and downs and to be able to get a feel from that and be in the middle of it without so much of it falling on your shoulders at that point is a great thing but they’ve got to use it the right way and I feel like our young quarterbacks have.”

Rattler completed 7 of 11 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 23 yards in three games last season.

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