Lincoln Riley has seemed lukewarm about signing a quarterback in the 2020 class.
But it was all a ruse.
On Thursday, during the pregame broadcast of the Under Armour All-American Game, Chandler Morris announced his verbal commitment to play at Oklahoma.
Later in the day, it was revealed that Morris had already officially signed a letter of intent to play for the Sooners during the early signing period in December.
Riley has known since National Signing Day on Dec. 18 that Morris was heading to Norman, but he declined to elaborate on his quarterback situation then, and he declined again on Sunday morning after the Sooners’ College Football Playoff loss to LSU.
Instead, Riley let Morris have Thursday’s spotlight.
“Just the relationship coach Riley and I have,” Morris said during the ESPN2 broadcast. “He kept a relationship with me the whole time in this recruiting process and he’s a man of his word.”
Morris is the son of former SMU and Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, who was fired in Fayetteville earlier this season and has since joined Gus Malzahn’s staff at Auburn as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Chandler Morris had been previously committed to the Razorbacks and decommitted when his dad lost his job. Many assumed he’d follow his dad to Auburn. Instead, he leaned on him for advice.
“I’d just say he’s been just guiding me,” Chandler Morris said. “There’s a list of coaches he trusts that I could go play for, and coach Riley was one of them and he was at the top of that list.”
The Sooners finally did get their man in the 2020 class, just a day after losing their man in the 2021 class — five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff.
Vandagriff had been verbally pledged to OU for six months before calling Riley on New Year’s Day and letting him know that he intended to remain closer to his home in Georgia.
With CeeDee Lamb and Kenneth Murray’s early departure to the NFL, plus reserves continuing to enter the transfer portal, losing Vandagriff was at first a harsh blow for Sooner Nation. But that blow was softened by the news of Morris’ decision.
Morris — listed by 247Sports at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds; by Rivals as 5-10, 172 — is a senior at Dallas Highland Park. He’s a four-star prospect as rated by 247Sports and ESPN and a three-star prospect by Rivals. ESPN ranks him as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the nation and the No. 38 overall prospect in the state of Texas.
He chose OU over offers from Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Colorado, Kansas State, TCU and USC.
Highland Park went 27-2 with Morris as the starter in his final two seasons as he threw for 7,694 yards and 88 touchdowns and ran for 1,286 yards and 37 TDs. That includes a 16-0 record in 2018 as he led Highland Park to the Class 5A-1 state championship.
As a junior, he completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 4,036 yards with 46 touchdowns and six interceptions, and also rushed for 651 yards and 20 TDs.
During his senior year, Morris threw for 3,658 yards and 42 TDs with 635 rushing yards and another 17 scores as Highland Park went 11-2.
OU will now have three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in 2020: third-year sophomore Tanner Mordecai, redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler and Morris.
Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.