Just five months ago, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was being projected to NFL teams in the first round of mock drafts. He was a Heisman Trophy favorite. Now, he’s a backup — but not for long. Rattler recently announced his intentions to transfer from the University of Oklahoma, and with that announcement came plenty of speculation within the college football landscape. Where does Rattler land in 2022, and where can he revitalize his NFL Draft stock?
Spencer Rattler’s transfer options
“Sooner Nation, thank you for allowing me to be a student-athlete at this prestigious institution. Thank you to every teammate and coach these last three seasons. We won several games together and made memories that I will cherish forever. Special thanks to my family and friends for your support. Thank God for the game of football. It’s the ultimate team sport and brings people and communities together unlike anything else.
“At this time, I would like to announce that I have entered the transfer portal to continue my academic and athletic career. Thank you again, Oklahoma. I will miss you.”
This move comes as the culmination of a tumultuous 2021 season that saw Rattler benched for freshman Caleb Williams. It also comes on the heels of an unexpected shift at head coach, catalyzed by Lincoln Riley’s departure for USC. Bob Stoops will be the Sooners’ interim head coach, but Rattler will not remain in Norman.
Rattler can still declare for the NFL Draft, even in the transfer portal. But the far more likely outcome is that he returns in 2022 in a new uniform. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five potential transfer destinations for the talented passer. Where can he revive his career?
NOT the USC Trojans
We can get this one out of the way quickly. If Rattler wants a change of scenery, he shouldn’t reunite with the coach who just benched him. USC may seem like an option based on the Rattler-Riley connection alone. But for the same reason, it isn’t.
Ole Miss Rebels
This potential match has quickly generated excitement, and it’s easy to see why. The two-word answer is simple: Lane Kiffin. Kiffin is a known offensive guru, and he’s helped develop Matt Corral into a potential QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft.
With Corral set to leave, Kiffin will have a void to fill. Why not fill it with another highly touted, naturally talented recruit?
Rattler’s arm talent would shine in Kiffin’s offense, and while Rattler isn’t quite the rushing threat that Corral is, he has enough athleticism to go off-script. While Kiffin’s scheme has at times limited Corral from getting full progression work, it could help a QB like Rattler get into a rhythm and rekindle his stock.
Losing Dontario Drummond, Jerrion Ealy, and Braylon Sanders will hurt. Nevertheless, the Rebels still have weapons in the wings, including Dannis Jackson, John Rhys Plumlee, Jonathan Mingo, and Casey Kelly.
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina is another school that comes to mind quickly as a potential transfer option for Rattler. The offensive appeal of Kiffin isn’t present with the Gamecocks, but Rattler does have a pre-existing relationship with head coach Shane Beamer. Beamer was the assistant head coach for the Sooners’ offense from 2018 to 2020.
In 2021, the Gamecocks limped to a 6-6 record, rotating an uninspiring QB trio of Luke Doty, Jason Brown, and Zeb Noland. Rattler would be a clear step up from all three, and he’d have some established chemistry with Beamer.
Top weapon Josh Vann is likely leaving, putting the offense in an uncertain spot. But with Rattler and Beamer facilitating things, there’s a chance the Gamecocks could glean more production from their receivers.
South Carolina does have four-star QB Braden Davis — a top-20 positional recruit — coming in the 2022 class. But it would be ideal to have him sit behind Rattler for a year while Rattler benefits from a new opportunity.
Florida State Seminoles
Mike Norvell has yet to record a winning season as the Florida State Seminoles head coach, and the clock is ticking. A large reason for his lack of success has been inconsistency at the quarterback position.
On paper, things are looking up for Florida State. They have one of the top recruiting classes in the 2022 cycle, and they have a lot of talent in the wings. All they need is a QB.
Jordan Travis showed modest development in 2021, but he’s not the kind of QB who’d hold off Rattler in a competition for the starting job. The Seminoles have also been notably aggressive in seeking out options via the transfer portal. Star edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II came through the transfer portal in 2020, as did defensive back Jammie Robinson. Running back Jashaun Corbin was acquired the same way in 2020.
In a way, Norvell and Rattler need each other. Rattler needs a starting role, and earning that role at Florida State would be a relatively safe bet. Meanwhile, Norvell needs a quarterback to complete the puzzle. Rattler could be the guy.
This is less likely, but still an intriguing possibility. LSU has been in the news for its recent coaching turmoil. After Ed Orgeron’s departure, a spot opened up at the top of the Tigers’ program. That spot was recently filled — unexpectedly — by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. When Kelly was coaching the Fighting Irish in 2019, he was one of several to offer a scholarship to Rattler as a recruit.
At LSU, Kelly has one of the strongest talent bases in college football — and that supporting cast could be additional appeal to lure Rattler to Baton Rouge. Kelly has been interested in Rattler before, and there’s reason for Rattler to be interested in him. Having Kayshon Boutte, Jack Bech, Jaray Jenkins, and Malik Nabers to throw to doesn’t hurt, either.
There is one diluting factor for LSU, however. Rattler wouldn’t be handed the starting job. He’d have to win out in a QB battle with incumbent starter Max Johnson. Johnson isn’t beyond competition, but he’d have a bit of a head start on Rattler. Engaging in a competition with him would be a big risk, with vital draft stock on the line.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Our final top transfer destination for Rattler is Arizona State. But there’s a reason it’s at the bottom of the list. The Sun Devils’ program isn’t exactly an appealing place to be right now. NCAA investigations have hemorrhaged its recruiting standing. And while Herm Edwards is returning in 2022, his status is very uncertain beyond next year.
Additionally, after an up-and-down season, NFL Draft prospect Jayden Daniels is likely to return in 2022. Like Johnson, Daniels would not have the luxury of being handed the starting job against Rattler. But he’d also prevent Rattler from walking into the top spot like he would at Ole Miss or South Carolina. Rattler is a head-to-head upgrade on Daniels, but Daniels does have a head start at the program.
There’s a lot working against Arizona State, so why are they on the list? The main reason is location. Rattler is from Phoenix, Arizona. And the Sun Devils were in on recruiting Rattler back in 2019. The familiarity and comfort of home could be an underrated factor for Rattler — if he’s willing to deal with all the baggage that comes with Arizona State.
Other potential transfer destinations for Spencer Rattler
Ole Miss, South Carolina, Florida State, LSU, and Arizona State are just a few of the transfer destinations that stand out for Rattler. But the former Sooners passer isn’t limited to those teams. Other programs have some stock in the discussions as well.
Other programs that stand out include Texas, Western Kentucky, UCLA, Georgia, and TCU. If Steve Sarkisian feels unfulfilled with Casey Thompson and Hudson Card, he could bring in Rattler to take charge. Similarly, at TCU, new head coach Sonny Dykes might prefer a talented passer like Rattler to head his explosive offense over Max Duggan.
Georgia seems less likely, given Kirby Smart’s tendency to settle at the QB position. But it’s a fun match to think about, given Georgia’s excellent recruiting standing and defensive prowess. It would also give Rattler the chance to prove himself to NFL scouts against SEC competition, in a similar manner to Ole Miss or LSU.
Western Kentucky and UCLA would provide easy starting opportunities for Rattler. Both teams’ starters — Bailey Zappe and Dorian Thompson-Robinson — are set to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. The Hilltoppers, in particular, run an Air Raid scheme that could maximize opportunities for Rattler, though the optics of joining a C-USA program wouldn’t be ideal.