Quarterback battles were often a staple under former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley.
The former Sooner coach was typically hesitant to name a starter until the middle of August, giving the impression that several players had the opportunity to win the job. But there will be no such drama during this year’s fall camp.
When the Sooners take the field for their first fall practice Friday, transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel will be taking first-team reps under center. The former UCF quarterback was a two-year starter before missing most of last season with a collarbone injury and was quickly named the starter upon transferring to Oklahoma in January.
But the question of who will be the backup quarterback for Week 1 against UTEP is still undecided.
The Sooners were able to add two quarterbacks via the NCAA Transfer Portal in General Booty and Davis Beville during the offseason, leaving five quarterbacks with limited playing experience to compete for the backup spot.
“What’s still a little concerning as we sit here today is we’ve got one guy [in Gabriel] that’s thrown a bunch of footballs in live action,” said Jeff Lebby, OU offensive coordinator.” ... But those guys know how to work. They know what it means to be a quarterback. They’ve got great presence about them. They’ve done everything the right way. Excited about getting on the grass with them, for sure.”
With the Sooners taking the field Friday, here’s a look at the quarterbacks behind Gabriel:
The redshirt junior transferred to the Sooners from Pittsburgh in May, and it was a big addition for the quarterback room.
While Beville didn’t see the field a ton during his three-year stint at Pittsburgh, he’s now the most experienced quarterback on the roster outside of Gabriel. He appeared in nine games after redshirting his freshman year, completing 22-of-32 passes for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His best game came in relief duty in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last season, completing 14-of-18 passes for 149 yards against Michigan State.
“Davis has [had] some action which is huge, being able to add that to the room,” Lebby said.
Beville was a four-star quarterback in the 2019 class. The Greenville, South Carolina native was a three-year starter in high school, throwing for 6,759 yards and 88 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2 quarterback graduated from Allen High School before playing at Tyler Junior College in 2021, where he threw for 3,115 yards and 25 touchdowns in his lone season.
He doesn’t have experience playing outside the junior college level, but he has shown flashes as a playmaker with a strong arm. And he has Gabriel’s seal of approval.
“[He’s] just a good dude,” Gabriel said. “He’s obviously at this level for a reason... But I think what separates a lot of people is the mentality. The way he approaches work every day, he’s got the right mindset for it. That’s why I know he’s going to be as successful as he wants to be.”
The true freshman quarterback is the youngest of the group.
The 2022 4-star recruit was a mid-year enrollee and attended spring practices. He even saw playing time during the annual spring game in April, though he struggled in limited reps.
However, he was highly touted coming out of Flower Mound, Texas. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns combined during his junior and senior seasons, adding 18 rushing touchdowns.
Teammates and coaches have raved about Evers throughout the last few months.
“I’ve said this and will continue to say this – Nick is very, very talented,” Lebby said. “I love where he’s going to end up when it’s all said and done. He understands the reset process as you come into college and having to reset and be in a room full of talented guys. But Nick’s got a big-time future. I’m excited about what he’s going to end up being here for us.”
The 2020 4-star recruit has yet to see the field in college.
He committed to Penn State and redshirted before transferring to the Sooners prior to the 2021 season. But Bowens struggled to move up the depth chart last season, sitting as the fourth-string quarterback.
The dual-threat quarterback was explosive in high school, throwing for 2,148 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 589 yards and 13 scores as a senior at Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada.
The walk-on quarterback was the third-string quarterback last season but saw the field just once, completing 2 passes for 20 yards against Western Carolina.