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South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler poised for return to form in 2022

Crissy Froyd

Spencer Rattler was projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Instead, he found himself without a starting job and elected to not enter the draft at all. Rattler heads into the season as one of the most polarizing prospects in college football, regardless of position.

He’s been ranked as high as the No. 3 draft-eligible quarterback in the country while he doesn’t even appear on other top lists of the same type.

While Rattler had his struggles back in Norman with Oklahoma, he enters a very new environment in Columbia, South Carolina — a place where he could see his eventual resurgence.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft

What went wrong for Spencer Rattler in 2021

oklahoma qb spencer rattler
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hardly anyone saw Rattler taking the type of tumble he did in 2021. He had sky-high preseason expectations for himself and the Sooners last year. But it quickly became clear that Oklahoma wasn’t going to be successful offensively with Rattler at the helm.

Oklahoma faced the Tulane Green Wave in the first game of the season, one that was largely projected to be a bloodbath with the No. 2 team in the country coming out on top. While the Sooners did get the victory, the 40-35 final score was anything but what they had drawn up and Rattler was outperformed by Tulane freshman quarterback Michael Pratt.

Rattler showed some decision-making issues and missed on some easy throws, something that popped up from time to time throughout the rest of his final season at Oklahoma. He completed 30-of-39 passes for 304 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, adding a score on the ground. Pratt was 27-of-44 passing for 296 yards with three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

Rattler was benched in early October and finished last season with a 74.9% completion rate, 1,483 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions over nine games.

  • Spencer Rattler stats (2020): 68% completion, 3,031 passing yards, 34 total TD, 7 INT

There’s no question that Rattler possesses a great deal of talent and upside. The majority of his issues seemed to be on the mental end, which may prove fixable with different surroundings. Rattler says he’s confident in his pre-snap and post-snap decision-making, but that it’s an area he’s focused on.

“Pre and post-snap decision-making, I want to sharpen up,” Spencer Rattler told me in June. “I’m not bad at it, but I want to sharpen up. Everybody’s got to sharpen up at that. If I can do that, just get through my reads, we’ll be good.”

A change of scenery will help Spencer Rattler

south carolina qb spencer rattler
Chris Singleton/Houma Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

In today’s era of college football, the transfer portal is a popular option for quarterbacks who find themselves in disadvantageous situations or face problems securing the starting job with their team. Even though the portal is still relatively new, it’s been actively used — and there are some success stories. There’s also some not-so-successful stories.

It didn’t take long for Rattler to realize that the outlook for him at Oklahoma wasn’t a good one, and entering the portal was in his best interest. With a change in environment and offensive scheme, Rattler puts himself in the best position possible to get his feet back under him.

The type of offense head coach Shane Beamer and his staff run differs from the one he came from under Lincoln Riley. That could be a good thing.

“It’s a lot different, coming to a pro-style offense. There’s a lot more verbiage, a lot longer play calls, a lot different reads, pre and post-snap. But that’s going to help my game overall. That’s why I made the move and I’m learning it really well.”

Spencer Rattler to Sportsnaut’s Crissy Floyd

Spencer Rattler’s outlook moving forward

Players aren’t projected to be chosen first in the NFL Draft without reason. Rattler brings a lot of positives to the table. If he can move past some of the mental struggles he showed and revive himself with a new coaching staff, he has the opportunity to return to his former status.

Spencer Rattler is set up in a good position with a rising Gamecocks team that has found new life under head coach Shane Beamer. South Carolina is receiving national attention after previously being viewed as a lowly team, finishing last season with a 7-6 record after failing to top four wins in the previous two seasons.

South Carolina can continue to make the leap in Beamer’s second year with the team now that several players have experience within his system. And Beamer has landed what could be an essential piece in Rattler if he can meet the expectations.

Rattler could be a large upgrade over Luke Doty, who lacked experience upon Beamer’s arrival. The coach seems confident in his acquisition after spending time with Rattler during his 2018-2020 stint at Oklahoma.

“There’s a lot to like. Obviously the talent speaks for itself, but the thing that was really attractive about Spencer beyond the talent was the fact he has played a lot of football.

And if you look at our quarterback room, when I was here last year, Luke Doty was our starting quarterback and he had the most experience he had started three games as a college quarterback and was still a freshman in my mind. So to be able to add a guy like Spencer who has the experience that he has, has been into the fire before, has won a conference championship, was a no-brainer.”

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer to Sportsnaut’s Crissy Froyd

In addition to the experience element, Rattler fulfilled everything Beamer was looking for in a quarterback.

“As far as what we look for at the quarterback position, it’s accuracy first and formemost. In today’s time, you’ve got to be athletic enough to get yourself out of trouble. You don’t have to be Kyler Murray, but you’ve got to be athletic enough… and have the competitive spirit and the leadership qualities you want at that position. Being around Spencer at Oklahoma, I knew he had what we were looking for,” Beamer said about Spencer Rattler.

For Rattler, he knows what he brings from a tangibles and an intangibles perspective.

“I feel like my best strength is making guys on the field better around me,” Rattler said. “Just making plays with those guys, getting out of the pocket and getting guys open with how I throw the ball. But as a group, they make my job easier, and vice versa.”

The move to South Carolina is something that Rattler did for himself looking out for the future of his career and a potential graduation to the NFL next spring. He’s not terribly focused on the outside noise.

“I’m not even worried about proving anybody wrong. I just want to be the best me that I can be,” Rattler said. “Go out there and execute and play ball and have fun. That’s what I’m about this year. Play like I know how to play and win games. There’s a little chip on my shoulder. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t.”