College Sports Wire has Dillon Gabriel ranked as the 12th-best QB in the country
Oklahoma’s true preparation for the 2023 season is approaching its final steps.
Team 129 will start summer workouts ahead of fall camp in the coming weeks, and guys will return from their breaks after spring practice. Oklahoma looks to hit the ground running in pursuit of one final Big 12 crown and one last berth in the College Football Playoff as a member of the Big 12 before it departs for the SEC next summer.
At the heart of that goal, quarterback Dillon Gabriel resides with the keys to Jeff Lebby’s offense. He plays a significant role in Oklahoma’s attempt to rebound from the program’s worst season in over 20 years.
Gabriel was the target of ire for some Sooners fans despite starting 12 of the team’s 13 games and ranking second in the Big 12 in passing yards per game (264), total offense (290.3 ypg), pass efficiency rating (154.4), yards per completion (13.8), yards per pass attempt (8.6) and passing touchdowns (25). He completed 62.7% of his passes for 3,168 yards and rushed for 317 yards and six touchdowns. He threw for at least 230 yards in nine of his 11 complete games and threw for at least one touchdown in 10 of those games.
He did leave a few plays on the field once or twice a game, and he has spoken about that this offseason. However, on a list of reasons OU went 6-7 last year, he should be in the bottom third.
College football feels more wide open this year than it has in the last few. Sure, Georgia has transformed itself into a red and black version of Godzilla, terrorizing the rest of college football. But, UGA no longer has proven signal-caller Stetson Bennett and has to reload a roster that lost multiple starters to the top 100 picks of the 2023 NFL draft. Alabama doesn’t have a QB that’s proven either with Bryce Young leaving Tuscaloosa to become the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. As you sit back and survey the college football landscape, the field is wide open, but QB play could be the separation for many.
Our friends at College Sports Wire ranked the 25 best quarterbacks in college football and while the consensus remains that one-time Sooner Caleb Williams is the top guy, the rest could be debated.
Dillon Gabriel slots in at No. 12 nationally and No. 2 in the Big 12 behind Kansas’ Jalon Daniels.
Gabriel was a huge acquisition for the Sooners prior to the 2022 season. A move that almost didn’t happen after the former UCF passer originally committed to transfer to UCLA. But as has been the case for a good chunk of his collegiate career, he missed time due to injury. Of course, that injury occurred due to a late hit by TCU during their game. The Big 12’s leading passer is hoping for a repeat of last year if Oklahoma wants to avoid back-to-back losing seasons. — Conn, College Sports Wire
Gabriel is a significant part of Oklahoma’s equation heading into 2023. He has spent multiple seasons with Jeff Lebby as his offensive coordinator dating to their time at UCF.
It’s now or never for Gabriel. With five-star QB Jackson Arnold on campus, the margin for error this year could be slim. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Gabriel remains the top QB in Norman if Oklahoma’s offense struggles. Gabriel has command of the offense, and his teammates respect and follow him.
However, Oklahoma is not a place where 6-7 will be tolerated in back-to-back seasons. Changes could be made at QB, if nothing else, to shake things up.
Ultimately, it’s hard to believe Gabriel will not play at least as well as he did last year. He could likely even exceed that if things fall perfectly. He lost three of his top four pass catchers to the NFL, so early on, adjusting and finding his complementary options to wide receivers Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops could set the tone for his ability to consistently perform and whether or not Gabriel moves up this list by the end of the season.
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