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OU football: Spencer Rattler speaks with media for first time as a Sooner, reflects on freshman season learning from Jalen Hurts

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Spencer Rattler

Freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler before the Big 12 Championship game against Baylor Dec. 7, 2019.

ATLANTA — As most of Oklahoma's roster cleared out of the first floor of the College Football Hall of Fame as the Sooners' session for Peach Bowl media day ended, freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler peered into the doorway of the indoor playing field.

Rattler, much like the majority of the Sooners, was set up for the media in the entryway of the Hall of Fame. The starters were sitting at individual tables on the field, and six of the top Sooners sat high on brightly lit podiums with their names written above them.

Rattler paid particular attention to one that read "Jalen Hurts: Quarterback."

"Watch, I'm going to get me a podium next year," Rattler said to freshman safety Jeremiah Criddell. 

Expecting to be next year's starting quarterback for a College Football Playoff team might come across as irrational confidence from most third-string quarterbacks, but not from Rattler, who was Rivals.com's No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2019.

Rattler signed with Oklahoma on Dec. 19, 2018, and with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray expecting to leave for the NFL or the MLB, many expected Rattler to be next in line for coach Lincoln Riley's quarterback factory. 

But a little less than a month later, Jalen Hurts announced he was transferring from Alabama. And with his experience and winning pedigree, he was the presumed starter since January.

Hurts was officially named the starter in August, with redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai being the backup, making Rattler the third string. And while he hasn't had much of a chance to showcase his talent on the field, Rattler said he learned lessons on the intangible side.

"I'm learning just how to control your game, how to control things off the field and on the field," Rattler said at media day, which was the first time he spoke to the media as a Sooner. "There's a lot of different aspects that I've learned as far as being a leader."

One of Hurts' calling cards is his stoic, business-like demeanor. He is known for his elite leadership skills as well as his football talent, and that in particular was a trait Rattler tried to learn from.

"That's the biggest thing I've learned from him, how he manages himself," Rattler said. "Whether it's on the field, around the team, with the media, how mature he is. It's opened my eyes a lot because I haven't met a lot of guys like him."

However, Rattler had one opportunity to show why all the hype surrounding him may be justified in Oklahoma's 70-14 rout of South Dakota on Sept. 7. The Phoenix, Arizona, native came into the fourth quarter with a 63-14 lead.

He proceeded to captain an electric drive by completing all four of his passes, accounting for 65 total yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass to freshman Trejan Bridges.

"If I had to compare him to a quarterback in the NFL, I'd say he's like (Kansas City's and 2018 NFL MVP) Pat Mahomes," said redshirt sophomore wide receiver Charleston Rambo. "He throws the ball good. I mean, he can really put that ball on the money."

Three weeks later, Rattler came in against Texas Tech in the fourth quarter of a 55-14 win over Texas Tech, and he hasn't taken a snap since. 

Through his in-game absence, Rattler has been versatile in practice for the Sooners, taking snaps with everyone from the scout team to the first stringers.

"My role is just to help the team in whatever way that I can," Rattler said. "Sometimes it's scout team, sometimes it's doing reps with the ones, twos or threes. Coach Riley's put me in a great position to help the team. I've learned a lot, I know the offense now, and I've had a great time learning."

Rattler's freshman season wasn't the coming-out party it could have been, but he said he's made the most of his opportunity learning under Hurts and Riley, and that he's ready for his next opportunity.

"(Freshman year) is what I expected," Rattler said. "I'm ready for whatever. I've learned a lot this year, and it's been a great experience." 

Sports editor

Vic Reynolds is a journalism sophomore and The Daily's sports editor. Previously he served as a sports reporter covering OU's football, softball and wrestling teams.

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