Oklahoma and USC have been intertwined so much in the last two or three months you may have thought they were the fiercest of rivals. The reality is that one singular man’s decision married the programs in a way that neither probably wanted.
Lincoln Riley’s departure from Oklahoma had college landscape changing effects. Outside of the out of nowhere coaching search the Sooners undertook, the most significant ripple has been the departures each team has seen since that fateful day in November. The Sooners and Trojans’ have experienced so much player personnel coming and going that it is enough to make the calmest individual anxious and confused.
The biggest domino in this: Sooners QB Caleb Williams entered the portal and it led to Dillon Gabriel coming to Oklahoma to reunite with his former UCF coordinator in Jeff Lebby. Williams and his family were seemingly in LA visiting both UCLA and USC. Visits by Caleb and Mario Williams(also entered the transfer portal) led to folks closest to the program that there is significant reason to believe both could end up there.
On the USC side, things weren’t smooth sailing as former four-star QB Jaxson Dart, who performed admirably in the absence of Kedon Slovis with 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions while completing 61.9% of his throws, also entered the transfer portal.
Dart’s entry into the portal only gained traction as reports of Caleb Williams and USC uniting became a well-discussed topic amongst major college football media. As it stands both are the number one and two overall player available in 247’s transfer portal player rankings.
Oklahoma has shown Dart interest and Dart has an interest in them. According to a report from ESPN, Dart is also looking at Ole Miss and TCU
With that in mind and assuming Dart picks from one of those three let’s take a look at what each school has that could appeal most to Dart.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs may not be the sexy option that Oklahoma is but there’s a real reason to believe that Dart could go there, compete and be a successful quarterback. Why? The head coach has done it before with another transfer and at another school already.
Sonny Dykes has developed names like Jared Goff into the NFL and he also can boast that he helped Shane Buechele and Tanner Mordecai revitalize their careers at SMU. He knows and gets quarterbacks. That’s an undeniable fact.
He also stated that the TCU job is up for grabs this offseason. While Zack Evans transferred to Ole Miss, the Horned Frogs have a talented playmaker out wide in junior Quentin Johnston and incoming freshman Jordan Hudson as weapons for Dart. One would imagine TCU isn’t the betting favorite but they present some real opportunity.
Ole Miss Rebels
In Mississippi, Lane Kiffin waits and hopes he can do whatever he can to get Jaxson Dart on campus. Dart would immediately be the guy at Ole Miss as likely first-rounder Matt Corral is headed to the NFL Draft and John Rhys Plumlee to the transfer portal.
Currently, the only quarterback the Rebels have with any meaningful game action is like Altymer, who saw time in the Rebels Sugar Bowl loss to Baylor.
The aforementioned Zach Evans from TCU transferred to Ole Miss and it’s very plausible that Ole Miss brings in Michael Trigg, another USC transfer and supposedly a very close friend of Dart’s for a visit as well.
With Kiffin’s offensive acumen, recent film of Matt Corral success, and the path of least resistance to a starting quarterback job, the Rebels look firmly entrenched in this race.
Last but certainly not least, the Oklahoma Sooners are the third team that figures to be a major factor in the race for Jaxson Dart.
Oklahoma probably has the most to offer but also probably poses Dart with the biggest obstacles to immediate playing time. However, that doesn’t seem to matter as Dart signed to play at USC despite Slovis’ presence and Miller Moss also signed. Competition doesn’t look like it scares him and if not, joining Oklahoma would be a great move.
He’d compete with Dillon Gabriel all spring and summer and assuming Gabriel won out due to familiarity and comfort in Lebby’s offensive system, Dart would be the number two guy. He would only be a play away from seeing the field and we know that he’s comfortable coming off the bench and producing. Assuming Gabriel makes it through the season with a clean bill of health, he’d then go into 2023 with four-star commit Nick Evers as his only real competition.
Lebby’s track record of developing and getting the best out of his quarterbacks speaks for itself and Oklahoma’s offensive weapons with Marvin Mims, Eric Gray, Brayden Willis, Jalil Farooq, Theo Wease, and the incoming freshmen plus the possibilities of his friend and former Trojan Michael Trigg being able to play here have to seem doubly exciting.
All told, this is a fascinating situation that has a very interesting conclusion one way or another. Does Dart presumably switch places with Caleb Williams and head for the Palace on the Prairie? Does he go to Ole Miss and try and forge something with Lane Kiffin? Or does he join the Big 12 and head to Fort Worth to do battle with Max Duggan and Chandler Morris to see who Sonny Dykes’ QB to start his tenure at TCU?
Either way, whatever happens, we’ll keep you updated here on Sooners Wire.
Oklahoma Sooners 2022 transfer portal tracker