The South Carolina Gamecocks picked up a commitment from the best “free agent” quarterback in the NCAA transfer portal on Monday Night. Spencer Rattler is coming to Columbia. As a fan of the Gamecocks and someone that lived for two years in Norman, Oklahoma I find myself in the weird center of the Venn Diagram that binds these two football programs. Well, myself and now Rattler I guess share the middle.
Rattler went to high school in Arizona and he was graded as a five-star recruit by 247 sports. In the 2019 class, he was ranked as the 11th best player in the nation. He committed to the University of Oklahoma, and was sitting behind quarterback transfer and now Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Jalen Hurts his first season. He only logged three games played so he was able to redshirt his freshman year, leaving him with four years of eligibility left.
In his second year, Rattler took on Tanner Mordecai for the starting quarterback spot and won it, leading the Oklahoma Sooners to a 9-2 overall record, including a Big 12 Championship Game win over Iowa State. Rattler completed 67.5% of his passes for 3,031 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Not known for his mobility like the OU quarterbacks of years gone by, Rattler still scampered 81 times for 160 yards and six touchdowns.
That brings us to the tumultuous 2021 season. It seemed like something was off from the jump as Oklahoma struggled to beat Tulane, and barely escaped with a 40-35 victory. Rattler entered the 2021 season as the odds-on Heisman favorite, and his debut saw him pass for 300 yards with a touchdown, but also saw two terrible interceptions early. Rattler rebounded with four more wins, but short of a five-touchdown performance against Western Carolina in Week 2, he wasn’t winning games convincingly and his Heisman hopes were plummeting.
Then it happened. October 9, 2021 in the Red River Rivalry game against Texas, and Rattler started 8-for-15 passing with 111 yards and an INT. He was replaced by true freshman Caleb Williams, who led an 18-point comeback in the second half, and Rattler’s playing time and Heisman candidacy was basically over. After the regular season ended and former head coach Lincoln Riley fled Norman under darkness for the brighter pastures of the other USC in California, Rattler announced he would be transferring.
The Gamecocks were rumored to be on his shortlist, but nobody seemed to give Carolina much thought as being contenders for him, which was a surprise.. See, the Gamecocks had a new head coach of their own in the form of Shane Beamer. He just capped off his first season with the team with a 6-6 record, and is going to be facing the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on December 30th. So why does it make sense that Rattler linked up with Beamer? This isn’t the first time these two have met.
Beamer has always been known as a great recruiter, and in 2018 he was brought on by the University of Oklahoma as their Assistant Head Coach and their tight ends coach. He was heavy on the recruiting trail, and he is part of why Rattler ended up a Sooner. They obviously interacted with each other in Rattler’s first two seasons and now they reunite, trading in the Crimson and Cream for the Garnett and Black.
So what does this mean for the Gamecocks? They get their best quarterback commitment in program history, but it just depends on who shows up next fall. Rattler’s main gripe against him other than his fall from grace as the Sooners quarterback has been his attitude problems. Whether it be as a high school kid on the hit series QB1, or if it was how he handled being benched at OU, Rattler has the me-first mentality. When things are going wrong, he is the type to point fingers, but not realize that when you point a finger for blame, you have three other fingers pointing back at you.
As a fan, I am excited for the potential that he brings to the program as he should elevate those around him. I am worried about how he is going to handle losing. Since the days of Steve Spurrier are long gone, it has been easy to be pessimistic as the Gamecock faithful. Rattler represents a potential light at the end of the Will Muschamp tunnel that caved in a while back so you can only slowly go forward.
Do I think Rattler makes us a championship-contending team? Not instantly. I worry how he is going to handle losing, because the Gamecocks are really good at finding new and creative ways to come up short against division rivals. But if Beamer can reign in the attitude and Rattler can buy into what he is creating at South Carolina, this could be a fun two years. After all, Rattler was always a little too ... cocky.