What was expected to be a campaign capped off with a potential Heisman Trophy ceremony has quickly seen former 5-star recruit, and ‘Mr. Everything’ Spencer Rattler demoted to QB2 for Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners. Just four games into his redshirt sophomore season, Rattler has found himself with much bigger fish to fry as his playing time, and tenure in Norman, looks to be all but over. A season in which the Sooners have by no means underperformed as a team—their slot at No. 4 in the AP poll is nothing to slouch at—Rattler’s performance has been anything but spectacular.
After a disappointing outing against Texas in which Rattler had an interception and a fumble in the first half, Riley had seen more than enough. Next up: A gun-slinger who was looked upon as the next signal-caller in the Oklahoma quarterback pipeline to compete for College Football’s MVP trophy and a top draft selection, true freshman Caleb Williams.
Riley’s move to insert Williams was one of major repercussions for Rattler’s future in football. Prior to the year, Rattler’s name was everything but announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as the projected 2022 No. 1 overall pick. However, as we’ve seen in recent years with draft rises from quarterbacks in Joe Burrow, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance, preseason favorites can also slip, and Rattler has quickly found himself looking up a greased slide.
In short, Williams was everything Riley had desired out of Rattler against Texas. A 5-star recruit in his own right, Williams was precise, accurate, and mobile, while showcasing an ability to handle the big stage, totaling over 300 yards from scrimmage, including a 66-yard scamper on his first snap of the ballgame.
Taking over for Rattler full-time in the second half, Williams put the Sooners’ former QB1 in the rearview mirror with his performance, highlighted by three total touchdowns and an 18-point comeback victory against the Longhorns in one of college football’s longest-standing showdowns, The Red River Rivalry.
A product out of Washington, D.C., Williams, just 18 years old, looked all the makings of an anchor to build around for historically one of the nation’s most high-octane offensive units. A unit mastheaded by Riley, who deploys a variation of the highly-popular Air Raid offense, the presence of ball-carrier Kennedy Brooks and Marvin Mims on the outside provides an exciting trio of weaponry to deploy alongside Williams considering his otherworldly skill set.
With Oklahoma set to return to the turf against TCU on Saturday, Riley has remained mute this week on providing any inklings toward naming his starter under center, saying he “hasn’t made that decision yet.” However, with Williams, he has his Ferrari out of the garage and it’s time to let the big dog eat.
“I think, just like any position, I think we'll look at the game plan vs. TCU, continue to evaluate these guys as they practice and go with who helps us the most,” Riley said. “Certainly we had really good contributions from both of [Rattler and Williams] them last week to help us win that game and may need that as we go forward.”
Long story short, Riley is blowing hot air. After canceling media availability on Wednesday where Oklahoma students spotted Williams taking the majority of first-team reps with binoculars from a nearby building, the situation under center is finalized, but the drama surrounding Rattler has just begun. Whether Riley is being truthful or not remains to be seen, but for a player in Rattler whose spotlight has continued to grow since his electric high school performances and lead part in a Netflix show, settling for a backup role doesn’t look to be in the cards for the third-year gun-slinger. While Williams’ name has been called upon for weeks on end as Rattler’s miscues have continued to pile up, Riley’s decision, whether he meant it or not, has been made clear.
Whether Rattler finishes his career at Oklahoma or not, it’s Caleb Williams’ ship to captain moving forward.