SI Sooners Spring Game Wrapup

SI Sooners Spring Game Wrapup

PREMIUM: Why Oklahoma quarterbacks are looking better (and deeper) than ever

Saturday's Red/White Game showed that behind Spencer Rattler, Lincoln Riley has loaded up on confident, skilled and "decisive" young QBs
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Say this about Lincoln Riley: he certainly can recognize ability in his quarterbacks.

Saturday’s spring game was the culmination of Spencer Rattler’s first spring practice as the Sooners’ starting QB, and so fans couldn’t wait to see how much he’s grown in the four months since the Cotton Bowl.

But Riley was also breaking in three other brand new quarterbacks on Saturday, and all three of them — two true freshmen and a redshirt freshman transfer — looked the part as well.

The obvious one is Caleb Williams, Riley’s clear backup in case something happens to Rattler in 2021, and the heir apparent for 2022 and beyond.

Williams looked purposeful when running with the ball, and he definitely looked fast, leading all rushers with 61 yards on six carries. The comparisons to Donovan McNabb aren’t bad when considering that young McNabb was a dynamic runner.

And throwing the ball, he was even better. In fact, Williams might be the new standard for the “dual-threat quarterback” label. Against mostly defensive starters, and working mostly with backup offensive linemen and backup receivers, he completed 10-of-11 passes for 99 yards.

The buzz around Williams coming out of Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC, not only continues, it grew on Saturday — and rightfully so. He looks very much ready to play major college football.

“I thought he was pretty decisive on the day,” Riley said. “You guys hear me use that word all the time when referencing quarterbacks, but I think that's so important at that position, I thought he had one of the most decisive days that he probably had all spring out there today.

“He just kind of felt calm and in control really the whole time. Made good decisions, made some pretty good throws, got the ball out of his hands.”

Riley’s third quarterback in the Red/White Game was a surprise — but only to those who didn’t follow Ben Harris’ high school career.

Harris went 52-2 as a starter at Carl Albert and took his team to three straight Class 5A state championships. That doesn’t happen by accident.

Now a preferred walk-on at OU, Harris showed his skills by completing 6-of-6 passes for 42 yards. His throws were mostly of the short, safe variety — a testament to Riley’s determination to grow his quarterbacks slowly, deliberately — but yet each one was sharp and accurate. Between plays, Harris looked confident and in control of the offense.

The fourth quarterback was Penn State transfer Micah Bowens, who also threw the ball sharply and with purpose. In late game action, Bowens — from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas — completed 4-of-5 passes for 26 yards and ran it three times for 25 yards.

It looked like Bowens executed a couple of read-options to perfection, including one on the goal line on which he appeared to score by reaching the ball inside the pylon while in the air and fully extended. But officials ruled he stepped out of bounds while launching himself for the end zone.

Bowens is an electrifying athlete. Harris is a winner and a leader. And Williams is the total package.

All three are young and have plenty to learn — and under Riley, they’ll learn it. But the Sooners’ future looks brighter than ever at the quarterback position.

Say this about Lincoln Riley: he certainly can recognize ability in his quarterbacks.

Saturday’s spring game was the culmination of Spencer Rattler’s first spring practice as the Sooners’ starting QB, and so fans couldn’t wait to see how much he’s grown in the four months since the Cotton Bowl.

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