NCAAF Teams
Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer 6d

Meet the next running quarterback following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray at Oklahoma

College Football, Football Recruiting, Oklahoma Sooners

At a high school football camp in Los Angeles last spring, the quarterbacks in attendance stood in two lines, throwing back-and-forth to warm-up.

Near the end of one of them, a 6-foot-1, 173-pound prospect wearing a red Oklahoma visor and gold cleats stood out. While the other quarterbacks looked around, sizing up the competition, the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the Class of 2019 showed off a few dance moves for the crowd in between tosses.

If there were a personality meter that placed Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray's smooth self-assurance on one end and his predecessor Baker Mayfield's boisterous trash-talking on the other, ESPN 300 Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler would fall somewhere in the middle.

"I say I'm the most confident person whenever I step on the field, and you have to be," Rattler said. "I definitely have a mixture of both of them, because Baker's real confident, outspoken guy and leads well. Then Kyler, I feel like he leads by example, gets on his guys when he needs to and I feel like he's a little more humble.

"It's good to have both of those qualities, and I'm humble, but I'm also super confident. You have to be when you play quarterback."

Growing up in Arizona, Rattler thought maybe he'd be a wide receiver. His father, Michael, knew his son had a better arm than other kids, though, and got him under center, where he excelled immediately.

Rattler's youth football coach, Bill Phaturos, remembers seeing him throw as an eighth-grader and thinking even then that Rattler would eventually have college coaches lined up at his door.

"You know that special sound they say you can hear when pro quarterbacks throw?" Phaturos asked. "I'm not joking, it was like a whistle when Spencer threw it; it was insane. A whoosh, everyone has a different name, but you could just hear it come off of his hand."

Like Murray and Mayfield, Rattler was a multisport athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football up until high school. He dropped baseball his freshman year because he wanted to focus on basketball and football, knowing that football would be his eventual path.

"I truly believe he could have played any of these sports on the next level, but he was just special in football," his father said. "I told him, you know there's not a lot of kids that can play quarterback. That is really a special position and we started honing in on that and knew he was going to be special."

Rattler's quarterback coach, Mike Giovando, first witnessed his ability when Rattler was in seventh grade. Giovando told some of the local college coaches then that he was working with a kid who would soon be on their radar for college offers. Giovando, who has worked with quarterbacks for over 10 years, said he could understand why people say Rattler is a combination of Mayfield and Murray personality-wise, but more than that he sees Rattler as an excellent fit for the Oklahoma offense that ranked first in total yards per game with Mayfield and Murray at the helm the past two seasons.

"Nobody is as fast as Kyler Murray, that kid is pretty dang fast, but I think [Rattler] brings a little bit of both Baker and Kyler in what he can do," Giovando said. "If he needs to take off (and run), he can. If he needs to make a crazy, off-platform, sideways throw, he can make the throw, or if it needs to be on schedule in a tight window, he can do that. Those Oklahoma quarterbacks are all accurate and that's what you get with him."

Murray is one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy being presented this weekend because he's been impossible to slow down this season. He leads the nation this season in total offense with 4,945 yards and broke the single-season passer efficiency record set last year by Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman winner.

Rattler said he isn't trying to be either quarterback, but he is using the blueprint those two have set forth to keep Oklahoma's offensive success going.

He has shown flashes of it in his high school career, throwing for 3,946 yards, 45 touchdowns and 11 interceptions his junior season. His senior season was cut short after he was ruled ineligible for 30 days for a violation of the school conduct code, but in seven games he racked up 1,863 yards and 23 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions.

Rattler credited his teammates for much of his success, and he knows that he won't be able to do it alone in college. In fact, a big part of why Rattler chose the Sooners was because of the emphasis the coaching staff puts on the offensive line.

Not even on campus yet, Rattler has already bonded with his fellow commitments in the 2019 class and has commanded their respect from his demeanor and attitude. ESPN 300 wide receiver Theo Wease Jr. is eager to get started working with his future quarterback.

"Spencer is probably the most humble dude I've ever met," Wease said. "I was telling him he's next up to win the Heisman and he immediately said, 'We are all going to be balling next year,' and that goes a long way with me. He's definitely a leader, we were at The Opening together and he kept everybody's head up and I'm glad he's going to be my quarterback in college."

With more young quarterbacks playing early and Murray expected to leave Oklahoma to pursue a professional baseball career after this season, the opportunity will be there for Rattler to take over as the Sooners' signal caller sooner rather than later.

Rattler and Giovando are planning to get as much of the Oklahoma playbook as possible from head coach Lincoln Riley after Rattler signs his letter of intent Dec. 19. Rattler will not be enrolling early, but he plans to use the offseason to learn the Oklahoma playbook on the field and in the classroom.

Following in the footsteps of Mayfield and Murray would be tough for any quarterback, but Rattler doesn't have to be who they were. All he has to do is be himself and stay confident in who he is.

"We have some similar abilities and qualities on the field with Baker and Kyler, but I feel like I'm not the same as any other player," Rattler said. "I'm just going into it doing what I do, and I feel like that's the mindset you have to have at quarterback. My goal is just to go up there, get close with the other quarterbacks and learn from them, learn as much as I can and try to get that starting spot."

^ Back to Top ^