By Michael Kinney
In the world of recruiting, quarterbacks tend to fall under one of two categories. They are either described as a pro-style or dual threat.
In the past, dual-threat often meant they were just kids who relied on their athletic ability to play the position. They were not seen as players who could fling the ball around the field from the pocket.
Those terms are starting to go by the wayside and players like Spencer Rattler are the reason why the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Phoenix, AZ. Native is the No. 1 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class. But that term almost doesn’t do justice to the actual skill set Rattler brings to the position.
“I think it starts with playmaker. He’s a guy that does a lot,” Pinnacle High coach Dana Zupke said. “He can create a lot just on his own. Incredible arm strength, incredibly accurate passer, and then just a great athlete. Really has a knack for extending plays, moving around in the pocket, and keeping his eyes downfield.”
Even though Rattler is considered a quarterback with the ability to run the ball. the passing numbers he has put up so far in his career support the assertion that he is more than just an athlete who plays the position.
In three seasons at Pinnacle High Rattler has compiled 9,220 passing yards and 93 and 30 interceptions. He completed 643 of his 1,046 pass attempts to go along with another 901 rushing yards and 11 TDs on the ground.
As a junior last season, he threw for 3,946 yards and 45 touchdowns on 246 of 379. He also tossed 11 interceptions in 13 games. That is comparable to Auburn commit, Bo Nix, who is the top-rated pro-style QB in the class. He threw for 4,446 yards, 56 touchdowns and 7 INTs, but didn’t come close to Rattler’s ground attack.
“I feel like I played great and helped my team out well,” Rattler said of his junior season. “Stat-wise, I did very good.”
While his induvial accomplishments were impressive, Rattler was more concerned with how his Pinnacle High team. They finished the year with 9-4 record and made it to the quarterfinals of the Arizona state playoffs.
In Pinnacle’s final game of the season, Rattler may have had the best game of his career. The Pioneers lost 77-52 to the Chandler High, despite 587 passing yards and 6 total touchdowns (5 pass, 1 rush) from Rattler. It was the second time in the season he threw for nearly 600 yards.
“One game that really stands out is our last game of the playoffs a loss that was a shootout with the state champs, Chandler High School,” Zupke said. “Nobody put up points on Chandler like we did, and we basically committed to throwing the ball. I think we threw the ball 70 times in that game and threw for all kinds of records including 580 yards passing. He just absolutely made play after play after play after play.”
Yet, in the same contest, Rattler displayed why the same intangibles that make him a fierce competitor, can also cause him problems. That included throwing an interception on the goal line during the comeback attempt.
“I don’t mean this in a negative way. He’s a gunslinger and sometimes he believes he can make every throw and so sometimes that comes back to haunt you, because in that game, that ended up being a pick-six going the other way,” Zupke said. “It was over a 100 yard return for a touchdown. I don’t mean that negatively, that’s not a knock on the kid at all, it’s just that’s what you get with that kind of guy. He’s gonna go for it and we know that and we embrace it. It’s part of his deal. He’s gonna continue to evolve and make better decisions. I’ve seen that over the last three years. The decisions he’s making now compared to what he made as a freshman are night and day, but he’s still gonna go for it. He trusts his receivers and he’s gonna also let them go up and make plays.”
Rattler’s desire to put winning above all else spread over into basketball season where he helped the Pioneers win a state championship earlier this year. But what impressed Zupke is that he did it playing second fiddle on the team to highly touted junior guard Nico Mannion.
“He’s not the star,” Zupke said. “He’s kind of the second guy, and it’s really cool to see him embrace that role and be a key guy. I was at the basketball banquet when he got voted their varsity defensive player of the year, and that says a lot about a kid right there that as a quarterback that plays great defense in basketball.”
In many ways Rattler is similar to Oklahoma’s quarterback for the past three years. Baker Mayfield also had complete faith in his arm and the ability to get it into tight spaces.
That confidence helped lead the Sooners to a pair of trips to the College Football Playoffs and a Heisman Trophy for Mayfield. Zupke sees that confidence in Rattler, who he has watched grow since he was six-years-old.
“I think that competitiveness that he has is that driving force. He wants to win, he wants to make plays. Whatever it takes to make that happen, and the confidence he has in his own ability,” Zupke said. “I think it’s really that entire thing, it’s the moxie combined with the ability that makes him so special. He knows he’s good and he’s gonna show that in the way that he plays. There’s no point where you look at him and go ‘Okay, he’s doubting himself, or he’s tentative, or whatever.’ He is very confident.”
When Rattler visited Oklahoma, he was able to spend time talking with Mayfield.
“We had a meeting with Baker Mayfield on my visit last summer. It was my dad, myself, and Baker,” Rattler told Sports360az.com. “He told me about his love for the program and all the coaches at OU. He is a really cool guy. My parents also met Baker’s parents on our second visit. I look up to him and how he plays the game. He’s a very emotional player and a great leader. Right after I saw Baker plant the flag at Ohio State, it gave me chills. I just can’t wait to get there. I love the swagger they have.”
Even though Rattler was impressed with Mayfield, he was already locked into the Oklahoma camp long before they met.
Rattler committed to the Sooners June 27th of last year. But OU had been after the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder since his freshman year. As were many other programs. They included Alabama, Arizona, Miami, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Texas.
Rattler whittled his choices down to Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Arizona State and Oklahoma. The Sooners won out.
“It’s the perfect setup at OU,” Rattler said. “Coaches are amazing, facilities are crazy, school, everything literally. I love everything about OU. Oklahoma blew everybody out of the water.”
However, that didn’t mean the decision was easy. At least it wasn’t until he visited Oklahoma.
“I knew it once coach (Lincoln) Riley became the head coach,” Rattler said. “I told coach Riley on the phone ‘Once I get up there to visit I’m committing.’ They were very excited but kept it low key until I committed.”
Rattler is the only quarterback that the Sooners have committed for 2019. According to Rattler, that was due to a promise Riley made to him about not recruiting any other quarterbacks from that class.
Regardless, barring any transfers, when Rattler does arrive on the Oklahoma campus in 2019, he will have plenty of competition to deal with. Kyler Murray, Austin Kendall and Tanner Mordecai (2018) will all be looking to secure the starting spot.
“It means a lot that he would keep his word to me,” Rattler said. “He said right when I step on campus I’ll be able to compete for the starting job. If I need to redshirt, I’ll redshirt. But I want to play.”
Regardless when Rattler takes the reigns at Oklahoma, his aspirations are the same as others who have worn the uniform.
“National Championship and the Heisman Trophy,” Rattler said. “Those are the goals.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider with EyeAmTruth.com