OU supporters breathed a sigh of relief when UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel revealed in mid-December that he would transfer to UCLA. Many Sooners supporters believed that Dillon gabriel choice indicated Caleb Williams would probably continue with the team. However, on Monday, hours after Williams declared he would use the NCAA transfer site, Gabriel made a U-turn and declared he will play for the Sooners. Gabriel will likely play a significant part for the Sooners in 2022, even though Williams stated that he is still considering staying at OU.
For UCF this season, Gabriel had a great start, throwing for more than 300 yards in each of his first two games. Gabriel’s Week 3 performance against Louisville on September 17 saw him throw for 188 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Gabriel had a chance to give the Knights the lead for the first time since the second quarter after an interception with less than 30 seconds left gave UCF the ball just outside the Louisville 40. Gabriel ran for a game-tying score with less than 90 seconds remaining.
However, Jaylin Alderman of Louisville caught Gabriel’s first-down throw after it rebounded off a Knights receiver and traveled 66 yards for a touchdown. Gabriel was struck during a series of laterals as UCF desperately fought to win the game, and as a result, he cracked his left collarbone. As Gabriel’s injury did not require surgery, UCF coach Gus Malzahn expressed hope that Gabriel could return during the season. However, Gabriel ultimately decided in late November that he would transfer. In total, Gabriel threw for 8,037 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions during his time at UCF. In that defeat to Louisville, he ran for 372 yards, eight touchdowns, and one receiving score.
Dillon Gabriel is the First left-handed Quarterback.
Gabriel would be the Sooners’ first left-handed quarterback in a long time. But the previous time, things went smoothly. Josh Heupel, a somewhat unknown junior college quarterback who joined OU in 1999, just after Bob Stoops took over as the Sooners’ head coach, was the school’s last left-handed quarterback.
Heupel passed for 7,066 yards and 50 touchdowns in his two seasons as the starting quarterback at OU. He led the Sooners to an undefeated, national championship season in his second season, 2000, and was named the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Gabriel’s UCF head coach in 2019 and 2020 was Heupel. With his new offensive coordinator for the Sooners, Gabriel is well acquainted.
Gabriel knows the strategy of Lebby.
When Dillon gabriel started for the Knights in 2019, Jeff Lebby was UCF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Lebby was one of Brent Venables’ first hires after Riley was removed in that season, Gabriel passed for 3,653 yards, 29 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. In the Football Bowl Subdivision that year, Gabriel finished fourth with a completion rate of 15,48 yards.
Gabriel was one of many Knights who took to social media to actively endorse Lebby’s appointment as head coach after Josh Heupel left to assume the Tennessee position after the 2020 season. Lebby eventually chose to stay at Ole Miss for his second season there as Lane Kiffin’s offensive coordinator, while UCF hired Gus Malzahn in his place. Gabriel’s quarterback coach in 2020 was Joey Halzle, a fellow Sooner alum.