Oklahoma Sooners

So, What if Jalen Hurts Isn’t the Starter?

So, What if Jalen Hurts Isn’t the Starter?

College football season is now tantalizingly close with meaningful games less than a week away. Despite that, Oklahoma Head Coach, Lincoln Riley, has still not named a starting quarterback.

“I’m not super experienced, but I’m experienced enough to know I’m darn sure not nailing it down right now. We’ll see how it unfolds,” Riley said back on August 2nd.

When Riley will actually make the formal announcement is anybody’s guess. Kyler Murray was not named the starter until about a week and a half before the season opener despite being widely assumed as the starter just like Jalen Hurts is now.

It seems inevitable that Hurts will be named QB1 at some point in the very near future, but what if he isn’t? The Sooners are fortunate enough to have two more very solid quarterbacks behind Hurts that would certainly keep Oklahoma in a contending status.

Tanner Mordecai

Mordecai is probably going to be considered the least flashy of the three potential starting options for Riley and his staff, but the redshirt freshman has undeniable talent.

He only threw four passes last year in the two games he appeared in, but even in that extremely brief amount of time he saw the field, many fans could see the potential.

At Midway High School in Waco, Texas, Mordecai put up absolutely gaudy numbers including a senior season that might even make Kyler Murray blush. He threw for 3989 yards and an astonishing 48 touchdowns in 15 games. What may surprise fans even more than that, however, is that Mordecai is a bonafide dual-threat.

In that same season, Mordecai ran for 1131 yards and 23 (!) touchdowns. The kid can flat out ball, and it is evident why Lincoln Riley has said numerous times that he is a big fan of Tanner’s.

“Tanner has got everything you want in a quarterback,” Riley said. “He is going to continue to get better and better and has quickly.”

An argument could definitely be made that Mordecai and Hurts are of the same mold but that Mordecai may possess the better arm and speed. What Mordecai lacks, however, is something that Hurts excels in: experience and leadership.

Mordecai is a redshirt freshman, while Hurts is a senior who has been, and technically won, a national championship. Riley may love what Mordecai brings to the table, but in a big spot he’d most likely be much more comfortable with Hurts under center.

Spencer Rattler

Sooner fans have been hearing the name of Spencer Rattler for multiple years, and for good reason.

Rattler was the #1 rated quarterback recruit in the country for the 2019 class. His senior season at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona was cut short due to a suspension for violating a district code of conduct policy.

The suspension paired with Rattler’s inability to enroll at OU a semester early allowing him to be there for spring ball made most assume that there was next to no chance that he would be considered for the starting job in 2019. But, when asked about Rattler specifically, Riley didn’t rule out him getting some consideration.

In Rattler’s junior season, he threw for 3946 yards and 45 touchdowns in only 13 games. Simply put, he was the #1 quarterback recruit for a reason. Rattler may be very young, slightly undersized, and inexperienced, but the talent is so enormous that Oklahoma would still likely be the favorites in the Big 12 with him running the show.

Rattler isn’t quite the runner that Hurts and Mordecai are, having run for just over 1000 yards in his entire high school career. But, Rattler is obviously still a very gifted athlete.

Rattler and Riley are going to make an extremely special combination very soon, just a matter of when he will get his chance.

So…..what about 2020?

It’s never too early to look at next season, right?

Mordecai and Rattler are both quality options for 2019 but it would be an absolute stunner if Jalen Hurts was not named the starter sometime in the near future.

The 2020 season, however, is going to be very intriguing. It seemed obvious that Rattler would probably take a redshirt season and then begin his tenure as the next great Oklahoma quarterback, but Tanner Mordecai has thrown a wrench in that plan.

Mordecai has gotten the love and attention of Lincoln Riley, and there is no way that Mordecai isn’t very seriously looked at as the guy this time next year. Where that leaves Rattler would be very interesting to see, as with both being so young it seems inevitable that one of the two will begin look elsewhere for an opportunity to start.

The big question will boil down to whether or not Lincoln Riley would actually make the move to not go with top-recruit Spencer Rattler. He’s said multiple times that no starting jobs are “handed” to anybody, so he’s given us all reason to believe he isn’t afraid to make the move.

Then, looking even more ahead, 2021 top quarterback recruit Brock Vandagriff, will be throwing his name into the mix when he brings his talents to Norman as well. Riley is definitely going to have to make big decisions in the years ahead because of the great deal of quarterback talent that he is amassing, which is a good problem to have.

As for 2019, whoever the starter turns out to be will take the field in just a couple of weeks when the Sooners get their season started at home against Houston on September 1st.


Oklahoma Sooners

Josh is a sports broadcaster and journalist covering both Oklahoma high school sports as well as the University of Oklahoma. He has been the play-by-play voice of Chickasha High School Basketball for the past three seasons as well as a broadcaster for Anadarko High School Football. For The Franchise, Josh has been on the call for high school playoff football and basketball games, and currently covers OU Baseball as well as OU Football.

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