Entering the 2021 college football season, you couldn’t find a first-round mock draft that didn’t include quarterback Spencer Rattler coming off the board and in many cases, the first quarterback selected.
A prized high school recruit, Rattler had some impressive flashes in 2020 and Lincoln Riley’s recent quarterbacks at Oklahoma in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield were the No. 1 overall selection in consecutive drafts. It certainly felt like Rattler had a chance to be on the same trajectory.
While Murray, Mayfield and Rattler have vastly different body compositions, all three are shorter quarterbacks that don’t check the size boxes the NFL is typically looking for in the position. But that didn’t stop Murray or Mayfield from being the first player off the board.
Spencer Rattler failed to build off the peaks of his 2020 season in 2021 and his play became erratic. This prompted Riley to bench Rattler in favor of another highly-touted quarterback recruit in Caleb Williams, quickly spoiling the idea that Rattler could be the next Oklahoma quarterback to become a top pick.
Fast forward to present day and Riley is now the head coach at USC with Williams expected to be his starter. Spencer Rattler is now at South Carolina.
Riley is known for providing his quarterbacks with a friendly system to allow them to produce but too often at Oklahoma, Rattler didn’t function consistently within those parameters. There were too many instances where it felt like Rattler was chasing big plays down the field and making risky decisions with the football.
There was an entitlement about the way he played. It felt like he was fully aware of his hype as a player on a team that consistently had gaudy offensive production with plenty of weapons at his disposal. This led to uneven results due to an inconsistent process scanning the field and making the correct decision with the football.
What I love about the opportunity that South Carolina will afford Rattler is that it will force him to play smart football or the lows will be even lower playing against the best defenses in the SEC. While Oklahoma was a powerhouse in the Big Twelve, South Carolina is a middling team in the best conference of college football. Not playing smart football in the SEC could further expose the warts that popped up for Rattler at Oklahoma.
The most appealing quality of Spencer Rattler though is his arm talent. He can generate notable velocity on the football to challenge tight windows and drive the football outside the numbers. He has the arm strength to push the football down the field and thrive as a vertical passer.
For all the big time throws Rattler is capable of, I appreciate how he can function as a rhythm passer and slot throws with accuracy. He has enough mobility to navigate the pocket and is a strong thrower on the move. He has what it takes to be a standout for the Gamecocks and reaffirm the promise of being the No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class.
Based on my concerns from studying Spencer Rattler in 2021, South Carolina could be a perfect destination for him to iron out his play and recapture his hype but that will require him to play smarter and more consistent. Time will tell and there are plenty of concerns with his arc as a player, but the opportunity to reinvent himself is at South Carolina.
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