Ex-Sooners QB Rattler ready for restart at South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Spencer Rattler is not sure how things went sideways when he was Oklahoma’s quarterback, he just knows it was time for a reset and believes he’s found it at South Carolina.

“I feel totally refreshed to be at a new university, a great university like this,” Rattler said Wednesday. “I feel very comfortable here. I made a great decision and I’m happy I’m in this position.”

Rattler seemed in the perfect spot for him at Oklahoma, He was a five-star talent with a power arm who led the Sooners to the Big 12 Championship in 2020.

He began 2021 as a Heisman Trophy front runner and figured to end as the NFL’s likely No. 1 draft pick this spring. And while the Sooners kept winning, they weren’t bludgeoning opponents – they won five of their first six games by a touchdown or less – and Rattler took the fall.

Rattler was replaced by freshman Caleb Williams in the middle of a 55-48 win over Texas and never started again.

“It was crazy, it was a whirlwind,” Rattler said. “On the job my second year, had a great year, only lost two games. This past year, things went how they went, I couldn’t control them.

“I felt like as a player I was doing fine,” he continued. “We were undefeated at the time, but I guess it wasn’t enough.”

Rattler knew he had to leave the Sooners. His friend, Oklahoma tight end Austin Stogner, was also in the NCAA transfer portal and talked to Rattler about joining former Sooners’ assistant Shane Beamer, now starting his second season as South Carolina head coach.

A Zoom call was scheduled and Rattler loved what he heard.

“They impressed me a lot,” the quarterback said of the Gamecocks’ pitch.

Rattler doesn’t waste time wondering what might’ve been if he had stuck it out at Oklahoma with his head coach Lincoln Riley and rival Williams both at Southern Cal.

“I think it was just time to move on,” he said. “I wasn’t going to wait.”

Rattler arrived on South Carolina’s campus about a month ago and has quickly settled in the quarterback room. Beamer guaranteed him nothing since the Gamecocks return starter Luke Doty at the position. But Rattler said he is ready to learn, compete and handle whatever comes his way.

“He’s done a great job of coming into this program, immersing himself within the team and being a great teammate,” Beamer said.

Rattler’s transition has been helped by several other noteworthy players who have transferred to South Carolina, including Wake Forest running back Christian Beal-Smith and North Carolina State defensive lineman Terrell Dawkins.

His buddy, tight end Stogner, is set to arrive later this year.

That hasn’t stopped the hype from engulfing South Carolina fans. Rattler is the first five-star prospect on the roster since defensive end Jadeveon Clowney‘ three-season run ended in 2013.

Rattler’s got an NIL agreement with a local Chevrolet dealership for a garnet-colored Silverado, one of several tie-ins he’s likely to garner with the Gamecocks.

The team starts workouts in two weeks with it spring game on April 16.

Rattler wanted his new home to be somewhere “that has that love of their team,” he said. “I think I landed in the perfect spot.”

Still, Rattler understands little matters until the Gamecocks evolve into a winning team. Beamer went 7-6 last year including wins over Florida, Auburn and North Carolina.

Shortly after Rattler signed, the quarterback spoke with South Carolina offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield.

“Everybody in the country thinks you stink. Everybody in the country thinks I stink,” Satterfield said he told Rattler. “Let’s go at this with the biggest possible chip on our shoulder.”

Said Rattler: “I thought it was kind of funny.”

Rattler said he is not motivated by trying to prove his worth to critics, only about helping his new team succeed.

“I feel like I did my part” at Oklahoma, Rattler said. “Obviously, you can’t win every game by 50 points. It didn’t work out. That’s how it is. But I’m not trying to show anything but the best version of me.”

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”