2021 Oklahoma Football Preview | Preseason Quarterback Competition Is At Backup

Year one of the Spencer Rattler Era may have gotten off to a rocky start but it ended in a smashing success. A three-interception performance in Oklahoma’s shocking home loss to Kansas State, in week two, was followed up by another costly turnover in the next outing against Iowa State in Ames. A week later Rattler found himself on the bench watching Tanner Mordecai run Lincoln Riley’s offense after some first half mistakes. Riley went back to his former 5-star recruit for the second half of the Red River Rivalry and Rattler repaid his good faith by leading the Sooners to an epic 53-45 win over the Longhorns in a game that featured four overtimes.

Spencer Rattler career passing stats

The win over Texas was the first of eight in a row the Sooners would spin off in 2020. The eighth, and final, win came against Florida in the Cotton Bowl where Rattler would complete 14-of-23 passes for three touchdowns and no turnovers. After Oklahoma lowered the 55-20 boom on the Gators they went into the offseason with an established starting quarterback for the next season for the first time since 2017.

The offseason wasn’t kind to Oklahoma’s quarterback room though as Mordecai (SMU) and Chandler Morris (TCU) both transferred out leaving Riley with no experienced backup heading into 2021. The Sooners added one of the top recruits in the nation for the 2021 class in Caleb Williams and former ESPN 4-star recruit Micah Bowens transferred in after a year at Penn State. Yet that still leaves Lincoln Riley with Tanner Schafer as his most experienced passer among the backup quarterbacks. Shafer attempted five passes (3/5 for 18 yards) in the 2017 season opener against UTEP.

Oklahoma’s 2021 Quarterbacks

1Tanner Schafer6-3200R-Sr.Canadian, Texas / Canadian HS
5Micah Bowens5-11192R-Fr.Las Vegas, Nev. / Bishop Gorman HS
7Spencer Rattler6-1200R-So.Phoenix, Ariz. / Pinnacle HS
13Caleb Williams6-1218Fr.Washington, D.C. / Gonzaga College HS
15Ben Harris6-1204Fr.Midwest City, Okla. / Carl Albert HS
18Carsten Groos6-4227R-Fr.Austin, Texas / Anderson HS
19Ralph Rucker6-0206Fr.Lucas, Texas / Lovejoy HS
87Spencer Jones6-1202R-Sr.Nashville, Tenn. / Franklin Road Academy

Lincoln Riley’s top priority among his quarterbacks is to find a QB2 to backup Spencer Rattler. Williams may be the favorite to land the gig after a strong showing in the spring. He was the consensus top quarterback of the 2021 recruiting class and a 5-star recruit by both 247Sports and Rivals.

While Lincoln Riley is going to talk up all of his quarterbacks during fall camp, my guess is that Bowens is going to be the one to push Williams the most in an effort to land the #2 spot. A high-profile recruit himself, Bowens was the 247Sports composite #3 player from the state of Nevada for the 2020 class. He won two state titles for the famed Bishop Gorman High School and while his one year at Penn State didn’t yield any playing time it did earn him valuable experience at the Power Five level of college football.

While Oklahoma wasn’t one of the programs to offer Bowens out of high school, Lincoln Riley was very aware of his accomplishments. When he decided to hit the transfer portal Riley jumped at the opportunity.

“Micah went in the transfer portal and we liked what we saw,” Riley said last spring. “Had some good conversations with him and his family. And again, the interest was mutual and it moved along pretty quickly.”

Is there a possibility that a third player could jump into the competition for the backup quarterback spot when practice opens up today? Absolutely there is! However, the safest bets are on either Bowens or Williams earing the right to be the first signal caller off the bench during garbage time.

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