Rattler Ready: Ex-Oklahoma QB excited for South Carolina debut

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is anxious and excited, confident and poised – and more than ready to take the field with his new team at South Carolina.

After helping the Sooners win the Big 12 Conference title in 2020, Rattler lost his starting job midway through last season and became one of the top passers seeking a new home last December.

Rattler found it with the Gamecocks and can’t wait for the home opener against Georgia State.

“I’ll be live for the first time in a long time,” said Rattler, who started Oklahoma’s first six games before Caleb Williams took over. “But I’m ready for that, ready to get hit once or twice.”

Rattler, who’s thrown for 4,514 yards, 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions the past two years, has said he didn’t really understand the switch. He had won 13 straight as a starter when Williams got the call with Oklahoma trailing rival Texas.

He’s worked hard to clear his head and regain the style that had him as one of the leading Heisman Trophy contenders before last season.

“I’m not thinking about last season,” Rattler said.

Rattler entered South Carolina last January and stayed low-key in bonding with teammates and learning to run the attack led by offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Satterfield.

Rattler took pages of notes, Satterfield said, and showed a willingness to be coached, despite his past success. And when Rattler is in the huddle, there’s a confidence that’s unlike other quarterbacks.

“He brings our entire team confidence,” Satterfield said. “He’s there to compete and give our team a chance to win.”

Rattler believes he’s prepared well in the offseason to be the best he can be. He’s played and excelled in front of crazy, loud crowds before and can’t wait to see how his new SEC team’s fans measure up.

As far as facing Georgia State, Rattler hasn’t mapped out specific individual goals for a successful debut. “We just want to go out there and execute every drive, every play,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. For us, we just want to focus on us.”

Rattler is part of strong group of experienced transfers for the Gamecocks, who are looking to improve on last year’s 7-6 mark in coach Shane Beamer‘s first season: Running back Christian Beal-Smith, who ran for 1,336 yards and 12 touchdowns at Wake Forest the previous two years; Rattler’s former Oklahoma teammate tight end Austin Stogner also transferred to the Gamecocks; and South Carolina’s new receivers include Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr., who broke James Madison marks with 1,250 receiving yards and 15 TDs.

Wells was impressed by Rattler’s easy demeanor and regular-guy approach to the season. “He’s been consistent from day one,” Wells said of his new QB1. “He’s kept his head down and just kept getting better and better.”

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott knows his defense will have its hands full trying to slow down Rattler.

South Carolina needed four starting quarterbacks, including grad assistant Zeb Noland, last year due to injuries and transfers. Having consistency behind center with Rattler should bolster the offense.

“Their quarterback game is going to be a little more enhanced,” said Elliott, who spent 2010 through 2015 at South Carolina as offensive line coach and interim head coach midway through that final season after Steve Spurrier‘s abrupt departure.

“I think he’s a quarterback who can make all the throws across the field,” Elliott continued. “So they’ll probably take a little more opportunity to go down the field.”

Rattler’s not saying much about South Carolina’s game plan. He’s just counting the days until he’s back in control of a Power Five offense.

“Running out that tunnel with team, coaches, everyone,” Rattler said. “Hopefully, get that anxiety out of the way, not anxious, just fun, ready-to-go vibes. It’s going to be fun.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.