Lincoln Riley May Wait to Name Jalen Hurts, Spencer Rattler Oklahoma Starting QB

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IAugust 2, 2019

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Lincoln Riley of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on prior to their College Football Playoff Semifinal against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It might actually be later than sooner before Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley names his starting quarterback.

"You get a lot more accurate snapshot of where these guys are really at as camp unfolds," Riley told reporters Friday, according to ESPN's Edward Aschoff. "I would prefer to [name a starter during fall camp] because then you're able to get it out of the way. You're about to start to focus your reps in on the starter and the team knows—everybody knows—and you can move on." 

Lincoln has his choice between graduate transfer Jalen Hurts, redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai and true freshman Spencer Rattler. 

It would be surprising if Hurts isn't the starter when the season kicks off, as his experience far exceeds Riley's other two options. 

Hurts transferred to the Sooners in January after spending his first three years of collegiate eligibility with the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2016-18. Following the arrival of Tua Tagovailoa in 2017, Hurts was more or less squeezed out. 

The unofficial changing of the guard in Alabama came when Tagovailoa replaced Hurts to start the second half of the 2017-18 College Football Playoff National Championship and lead Alabama to victory over Georgia as a true freshman. Even so, Hurts showcased his ability last season by replacing an injured Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game and leading the Tide to a comeback win over Georgia.

Hurts departed Alabama with a 26-2 record and as the program's all-time leading quarterback in rushing touchdowns (23) and third-leading quarterback in total offense (7,617 yards). 

"The man can throw the ball more than people can even imagine," OU receiver CeeDee Lamb told Aschoff. "I can't wait for people to see that and the opportunity he gets, he's going to take advantage of it. It's going to be a fun ride. He has all the tools."

Presumably, Hurts' closest competitor is Rattler, 247Sports' only 5-star quarterback in the 2019 class, who possesses a similar dual-threat ability. Through four seasons at Pinnacle High School in Arizona, Rattler registered 11,083 passing yards and 116 passing touchdowns paired with 1,040 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

That said, Riley asserted, "We're not just gonna throw a true freshman in there just because, but we are going to give him enough reps to see if he's ready to factor in this thing right now." 

Whoever becomes the starter in Oklahoma will have big cleats to fill at the position; Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy as Sooners quarterbacks in 2018-19 and 2017-18, respectively. 

The Sooners' season begins against Houston on Sept. 1.