COLOMBIA, SC (AP) Spencer Rattler smiled broadly and sat in his chair, thinking about South Carolina’s first game in a month.
“I’m just ready to play,” the former Oklahoma quarterback said Thursday. “It’s been a while since I played football for real.”
Rattler, who led the Sooners to a Big 12 title in 2020, is among several high-profile transfers to join the Gamecocks this offseason. Rattler believes he and others can help the program go 7-6 in coach Shane Beamer’s rookie season.
“He preaches all that is right. He’s pointing this program in the right direction,” said Rattler, who has known Beamer since his days as an assistant in Oklahoma. “We are focused on getting better day by day.”
Rattler and his teammates showed up for meetings and planning sessions before taking to the field for the first time on Friday morning.
For Rattler, the change of scenery gave him the chance to show he was the leader, who had thrown for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns two years earlier, instead of the starter who was replaced midway through the season by Caleb Williams.
Tight end Austin Stogner, Rattler’s Oklahoma and now South Carolina teammate, was visiting in December as Beamer was looking into his own transfer plans when he urged the quarterback to consider the Gamecocks.
“Now we’re both here,” Stogner said.
And Stogner isn’t the only addition. Tailback Christian Beale-Smith joined South Carolina, having amassed 1,254 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last two seasons with Wake Forest. Receiver Corey Rucker crossed over from Arkansas State, where he caught 59 passes for 826 yards and nine touchdowns.
The group, which also includes Georgia runner Lovesey Carroll and NC State guard Terrell Dawkins, worked well together during the spring and summer sessions, Beamer said.
“We’ve come a long way,” Beamer said.
Part of that was because Rattler and others kept their heads down to blend in with their new teammates, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Satterfield said.
Rattler, a first-class candidate for the Heisman Trophy this time around a year ago, could flaunt his celebrity or talk about his accomplishments in a new location.
“But he had the discipline not to offend anyone,” Satterfield said.
Striker Dylan Wonnum backs this up. He sits next to Rattler in team meetings and has found a friendly player who is already poised to become a strong teammate. “He came humble,” Wonnum said.
Beal-Smith, 23, who has moved to another school, also let his work habits speak for themselves, according to running coach Montario Hardesty.
“He was there to listen to the young guys and he was there to help,” said Hardesty, a former Tennessee 1000-yard racer.
Rattler liked what he saw in the group of South Carolina craftsmen. The bonding that began during spring training has continued into the summer, and Rattler is confident he will stay in touch with them throughout the season.
It didn’t take long for Rattler to move from Heisman, who was looking to be a college football playoff contender last August, to one who cleared himself in the Suner tournaments in the second half of last season.
“I don’t have to try to prove anything, just get ready to play with these guys,” he said. “That’s the main focus.”
The South Carolina offense used four starting quarterbacks, including former assistant coach Zeb Noland, due to injuries and inconsistencies. The Gamecocks were second to last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring (22.6 ppg) and assists (201.2 yards per game).
Rattler believes he can bring some stability and perspective to the position after what he went through a year ago.
“I learned a lot as a quarterback, going through the (transfer) portal, overcoming adversity, it made me realize a lot of different things and see things differently,” he said. “Other than that, I’m the same guy, ready to work and play.”
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