Austin Kendall will be incoming freshman Spencer Rattler’s primary competition to start as Oklahoma quarterback next season, assuming Kyler Murray moves on to a professional baseball or football career as expected.
Kendall, who declined an interview with The Transcript on Saturday, has graduated and could also transfer to another school with two years eligibility remaining if he chooses.
Riley believes Kendall is still engaged in the opportunity to be the starter after serving as Murray’s backup.
“I do. I haven’t had year end conversations with everybody but I certainly do,” Riley said. “I mean I think he’ll take some confidence from that he was right there in a neck and neck battle with the guy that ended up winning the Heisman Trophy. I think he’s invested and he’s got a pretty good situation for whoever wins this thing you know coming up.”
Riley said bringing in a transfer QB remains a possibility, but the staff will evaluate the position first.
• NFL opportunities: As Riley prepares to hit the recruiting trail and with the NFL coaching carousel sure to heat up soon, questions about pro teams’ interest in him will increase. It has been a hot topic most of this season.
Riley said as of now, his interest in those jobs is minimal. OU’s loss to Alabama only increased his motivation to elevate the program.
“It just makes me even hungrier to keep going what we’ve got going here. I think just honesty and, like I’ve said, I don’t see [the NFL] as a step up, not in this profession,” he said. “It’s not a burning desire of mine by any stretch right now. Not even close. It doesn’t even compare to my burning desire to win a national championship here.”
• Rambo breaks out: Should OU lose Brown to the NFL, there’s a good chance Charleston Rambo can pick up some of his production.
That’s what the redshirt freshman did Saturday.
With Brown limited by a foot injury — Riley said he didn’t practice at all back in Norman ahead of the Orange Bowl — Rambo caught three passes for 79 yards, most of them on a 49-yard TD that brought OU within 11 points. He also caught a 10-yard pass on fourth-and-5 in the fourth quarter.
“We really didn’t have A.D. [Miller] the entire second half of the season, even though until last night and the Big 12 he hadn’t gotten a ton of game reps, he’s gotten a ton of practice reps,” Riley said. “I mean we have been as thin at outside receiver as I can ever remember being in all my years of coaching.
“I mean hell, we had to move Myles Tease out there darn near full-time as well just to have a body but Rambo took advantage of all those reps and he obviously got a ton here through bowl practices, basically all of them and has gotten better, gotten more confidence.”