The Daily Gamecock

New Gamecock quarterback Spencer Rattler's journey to Columbia spans 10 years

<p>Mike Giovando (left) and Spencer Rattler (right) in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2022.</p>
Mike Giovando (left) and Spencer Rattler (right) in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2022.

Spencer Rattler was the top-ranked quarterback and No. 11 player in the class of 2019. He committed to Oklahoma and spent three seasons with the Sooners where he racked up 4,595 passing yards and 40 touchdowns with a 70% pass completion rate before announcing his transfer to South Carolina in December 2021. 

From a young age, Rattler has always “played up,” according to his youth football coach Bill Phaturos. One of the most notable showings of Rattler’s talent happened at practice before an all-star game against rapper Snoop Dogg’s team.

“I remember standing by him — we were just running plays — and I heard the ball, that whistle, come off his finger, like they say pro-quarterbacks had,” Phaturos said. "That was in eighth grade. His arm is pretty much the same as it’s been since eighth grade.”

Though some have said Rattler is too arrogant or cocky, his high school head coach Dana Zupke said those who know him best say he is a player that should be known for his work ethic. 

“I don't think anybody knows how hard he's worked,” Phaturos said. “I mean, the kid's been seeing a quarterback guy since fourth grade. He's probably maybe missed one or two Sundays. And I remember even after our eighth grade, we won our state championship Saturday night, he went through with Mike (Giovando) on Sunday.”

Even before becoming Rattler’s youth coach, Phaturos said he knew the quarterback had a special arm. When Rattler was in just fourth grade, Phaturos sent him to Mike Giovando, known in Arizona as a "quarterback guru.” 

“I went to one of his youth games and walked over and stood by the fence and watched this kid play,” Giovando said. “And I'm like, 'Wow, this kid, golly. He's pretty dang good for an 11-year-old.' And he's throwing the ball all over the field, and you're just kind of watching a natural."

Rattler has been training with Giovando ever since and even continued when he went to Oklahoma and after announcing his intent to transfer to South Carolina.

“All I'm focused on with him is how great of a thrower can I make you, how great of a quarterback,” Giovando said. “I know we spent some time on the whiteboard this offseason. I mean these last couple months we went up to Minnesota and got with a speed guy that we like.”

Giovando said Rattler knows there are many aspects to becoming a great player and showed this same hunger for growth before college during his time at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Zupke said people don’t understand how dedicated he has been to becoming the best quarterback he can be.

“He had a unique quality. I mean, he’s got a lot of moxie,” Zupke said. "I love that word for him, cause I think it's fair — people call it cocky or whatever else — but Spencer carries an element of confidence that is rare, I think, at the high school level. And he wasn't afraid, especially in his junior and senior year, he wasn't afraid to call out his teammates, and that's such a challenging thing to do as a young person, even as a college athlete.”

Rattler headlines the class of incoming transfers that includes multiple graduate players and his former Oklahoma teammate, tight end Austin Stogner. Head coach Shane Beamer spoke to Rattler's commitment at a press conference on Monday. 

"Spencer's very, very, very, very, very, very very, very grounded and a great young man," Beamer said. "He's done a great job of coming into this program and immersing himself within the team and being a great teammate."

It’s safe to say Rattler’s skill and confidence will have a significant impact on Gamecock football, heading into Beamer’s second season at South Carolina. Rattler will likely be the starting quarterback for South Carolina heading into the 2022 season and is currently tied for the sixth best Heisman odds, according to FanDuel.


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