Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler entered his sophomore season as the player with the best Heisman Trophy odds. He was coming off a 3,000-yard year in which he accounted for 35 touchdowns and his omnipresent talent suggested there could be gaudier numbers and an eventual playoff berth on the horizon. But things have not gone as planned as the quarterback failed to eclipse 256 yards through the air in five straight contests against mediocre talent. The Sooners' fanbase turned on him and were loud in their desire for backup Caleb Williams. The wish came true down 18 against the hated Texas Longhorns, and the replacement responded by leading a ferocious and ultimately victorious rally while posting 300 total yards.
An old-fashioned quarterback controversy has emerged in Norman and while Lincoln Riley hasn't telegraphed his hand, it's easy to envision a scenario where Rattler slides down the depth chart. Whomever is under center for the next few weeks will surely benefit from an easy road. Oklahoma gets TCU at home and then a perceived cakewalk against the Jayhawks in Kansas. If it's Williams, then Rattler's chances to regain the reins will drop precipitously.
It's not a mighty failure to fall out of favor at a football factory like Oklahoma. Recent history has proven there's likely a Heisman Trophy-caliber signal-caller watching from the sidelines. But no one really saw this coming, even with existing questions — fair or otherwise — about Rattler's makeup.
For the purposes of extrapolating, let's assume Williams becomes the new starter, is successful, and stays healthy. What then does Rattler do? He has the capability to compete for any job in the country and a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. The past few weeks have been disastrous to his draft stock, which once pegged him confidently in the Top-10. Would it be worth it to rehabilitate elsewhere, if that's his best option to see the field, to try to recoup some of the lost value?
Again, we're looking way down the road to a problem that may not need to be solved. Rattler could play this Saturday and the ones after that and dominate. If that doesn't happen, though, it seems like his best course of action could be to affect the posture of a supportive teammate, enter the draft after this season, and begin his NFL education a year earlier.
I tend to agree with Trent Dilfer, who has a long relationship with Rattler through Elite 11 and spoke about the choices ahead on the latest Ryen Russillo Show.
"He just can't win this one," Dilfer said. "Caleb's in rare air from a physical standpoint and from a personality standpoint and the narrative's been been set on Spencer. I think Spencer goes to the NFL. I doubt he would go in the first round at this point but he's a talented kid and I think he can play a long time in the NFL."
If that is how things go down, we can look forward to an extremely wide variance on projections. Rattler's upside is still massive. He's 21 and will have big-game seasoning, plus the potential tricky baggage and learning that comes with getting benched. The personality stuff is going to fly in from all angles with the predictable smokescreen amplification making it impossible to know what's really going on.
Getting such a canvas, even if there's some smoothing around the edges, in the second round would seem a worthwhile risk.