For One Magical Night, Spencer Rattler Was Everything We Knew He Could Be
Everyone loves a comeback story, especially me. Watching someone get knocked down, pushed round and dragged on social media only to get up and prove everyone wrong even if for only one night is something to behold. The highs and lows of South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler's career have been well documented and it's those ups and downs that made last night's performance against Tennessee so special. If only for one magical night, Spencer Rattler reminded the college football world how good he could be.
The Rise and Fall of Spencer Rattler
To say Rattler's college football journey so far has been a bumpy one would be an understatement. As a 5-star QB from Arizona, Rattler first rose to national fame as the star of the Netflix documentary series "QB1 Beyond the Lights". During a stellar high school career, Rattler broke numerous records, passing for 11,083 yards and 116 touchdowns while rushing for 1,040 yards and 14 more. While Rattler shined on the field, he took a hit off it when a suspension for violating the district code of conduct ended his high school career early, ultimately missing the latter part of his senior year.
Even with the conduct violation, Rattler was still considered the consensus #1 quarterback recruit in the 2019 class and remained committed to play for Lincoln Riley at the University of Oklahoma. After seeing action in only 3 games for OU as a true Freshman in 2019, Rattler redshirted before ultimately earning the starting job in 2020, beating out fellow QB Tanner Mordecai.
2020 Rattler Leads OU to Big 12 Championship
The 2020 season got off to a rocky start for Rattler as the Sooners dropped back-to-back conference games to Kansas State and Iowa State in weeks 3 and 4 but it was during a 4-overtime win against Texas in the Red River Rivalry, that Rattler and Oklahoma found their groove. Rattler would go on to pass for 3,031 yards and 28 TDs in 2020 earning himself first team all-Big 12 QB while leading the Sooners to 8 straight wins and the Big 12 Title.
2021: From Heisman Front Runner to the Bench
After his strong finish to 2020, Rattler entered the 2021 season as a Heisman trophy favorite looking to follow in the footsteps of previous Oklahoma QB's Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray who won the award in 2017 and 2018. Not only was Rattler considered a Heisman trophy favorite entering 2021 but was already being mentioned as a potential top NFL draft pick for 2022. That would all come crashing down for Rattler as he struggled mightily in 2021 throwing only 11 TD passes with 5 Interceptions along with being benched in favor of highly touted QB Caleb Williams. Rattler would never regain the starting job and ultimately transferred to South Carolina during the off season in hopes of resurrecting his career with the Gamecocks.
Rattler Heads to Columbia, SC
While he arrived in Columbia with much hope, the 2022 season prior to Saturday night's game against Tennessee had been disappointing. Through 10 games, Rattler managed only 8 TD passes while throwing 9 Interceptions and had been sacked a whopping 23 times. The numbers through the first 10 games made what he did last night even more improbable.
Nobody Saw This Coming
Outside of maybe a few die hard Gamecock fans, not sure anyone in the country would have predicted anything like what we saw last night. It wasn't a matter of if Tennesee was going to win but by how much. The Volunteers were favored by 22 points, and many expected them to throttle their last two opponents South Carolina and Vanderbilt on their way to earning a College Football Playoff berth. That was supposed to be the story, but on this one magical night in Columbia, Rattler and the Gamecocks decided to rewrite that script.
Career Night for Rattler in Upset Win Over Tennessee
On this night, Spencer Rattler looked every bit like the Heisman front runner and top NFL draft pick he was supposed to be, leading South Carolina to a shocking 63-38 victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Saturday night, all but eliminating the Volunteers from the playoffs. Turning in the best performance of his career, Rattler threw for 438 yards and six touchdowns often looking like Michael Jordan in cleats working his magic all night long. It's hard to imagine that a Gamecock offense ranked 11th in the SEC would be virtually unstoppable while racking up 606 yards of total offense. Every time it looked like Tennessee would get back in the game, Rattler dazzled with both his arm and legs, making one big play after the next.
Watching that game, you could see the confidence and swagger from Rattler grow stronger as the game went on. Even Rattler himself could feel it "That was probably the best I've ever felt in a game. I felt unstoppable,'' said Rattler, adding he thought it was one of the best wins in college football history.
No matter how you feel about Spencer Rattler, like him or not, you have to admire and respect what he did against Tennessee on Saturday night. With everything he has been through over the past few years and with all the struggles in 2022, he could have easily given up. Instead, he turned in a magical, near flawless performance showing us that he can still play this game at the highest level. Even if it was just a glimpse, we all had a chance to see the greatness that lives inside Spencer Rattler and no matter what happens from here on out, I will always remember him for that.