Oklahoma Sooners quarterback room will look completely different in 2024

In early December, Oklahoma’s starting quarterback for the last two seasons, Dillon Gabriel, announced he was entering the transfer portal.

Gabriel saw the writing on the wall that it was former five-star Jackson Arnold’s time to take the reins under center for the Sooners. Gabriel transferred to Oregon to play the final year of his college career.

While Gabriel was certainly OU’s most notable loss in the portal at the QB spot, his was just the first of many departures that have completely reshuffled Oklahoma’s quarterback depth chart.

But let’s start at the beginning. Last season’s quarterback room in Norman consisted of Dillon Gabriel, Jackson Arnold, Davis Beville, General Booty and Jacob Switzer.

Gabriel’s departure wasn’t even the first domino to fall. Former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Lebby was hired to be the head coach at Mississippi State in late November. So, regardless of the portal or recruiting, a different voice was going to call the shots on offense.

Seth Littrell and Joe Jon Finley were promoted to co-offensive coordinators. Finley is still serving as the tight ends coach, and Littrell is expected to be the play-caller and quarterbacks coach. Additionally, offensive analyst Matt Wells, who has experience coaching quarterbacks and as an offensive coordinator, was hired away by Chris Klieman to coach QBs for Kansas State in January.

Arnold stuck with the Sooners after Lebby’s departure. By doing so, ehe stablished himself as the starter until he decides to leave Norman. Seemingly, this was the plan all along.

But the QB room has changed around Arnold. From the coach in charge to the players behind the highly-touted sophomore.

After Lebby took the job in Starkville and Gabriel moved to Eugene, the next exit came courtesy of Beville. The former backup transferred to South Carolina after two seasons at OU.

Switzer, the fifth-string quarterback and grandson of Barry Switzer, entered the portal in April, having spent only 2023 as a Sooner.

And, finally, first-ballot all-name team Hall of Famer and name, image and likeness legend General Booty, entered the transfer portal on May 5. That leaves Arnold as the only player left from the 2023 quarterback room still on the roster.

Though the departures have changed things, the argument could be made that the Sooners have more talent overall under center than they did in November when the regular season ended.

First, the Sooners added two quarterbacks as part of the 2024 recruiting class: Michael Hawkins Jr. out of Texas and Brendan Zurbrugg out of Ohio.

Hawkins is the more highly touted of the two, and has a chance to be the future of the program after Arnold’s time is up. However, Zurbrugg was a very good prospect. He’ll compete for snaps when given the opportunity. Though both are young, they offer potential and talent for the future of the position.

But Littrell needed a veteran backup behind Arnold to offer stability in case of injury, so the Sooners went and picked up Casey Thompson in the transfer portal by way of FAU.

Thompson is OU royalty by way of (most notably) his father Charles Thompson and his older brother Kendal Thompson. Casey made stops at Texas and Nebraska before his time at Florida Atlantic. He brings six seasons of college football experience to Oklahoma. He carved up the OU defense in the fabled 2021 Red River Rivalry game, holding his own on a field with two five-star quarterbacks in crimson and cream.

In addition, the Sooners have an extremely strong commitment from Kevin Sperry in the 2025 class. He will likely compete with Hawkins Jr. (and possibly Zurbrugg) for the starting spot going into the 2026 season if all goes as Brent Venables and the coaching staff think it will.

To recap, we’re just over five months removed from the regular-season finale against TCU, and the quarterback room looks vastly different. As it stands, the Sooners will take Jackson Arnold, Casey Thompson, Michael Hawkins Jr. and Brendan Zurbrugg into the 2024 season.

But this is Jackson Arnold’s time to be the face of Oklahoma Sooners football, an opportunity he’s relished and prepared for for years. He is now the most tenured player in the QB room. It’s one more way that the OU faithful will be counting on him to lead the way in 2024 and beyond.

Fortunately, the reshuffling at the position looks to have been a success from a talent acquisition standpoint and quarterback is a strong point for the Sooners heading into Year 3 of the Venables era and Year 1 in the SEC.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire