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Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel enters transfer portal with Jackson Arnold set to lead Sooners into SEC era

Dillon Gabriel has entered the NCAA transfer portal after two seasons with the Sooners, the Oklahoma quarterback announced on Monday. Gabriel becomes the second major quarterback name entering the portal on the first day of the winter transfer window, following Ohio State starter Kyle McCord. Both veterans are joining a loaded market that already includes 10 four-star QB prospects in 247Sports’ transfer rankings

247Sports has already assigned Gabriel a ranking of 91, making him the No. 4 quarterback available in the transfer portal. Gabriel posted what seems to be a farewell message on social media Monday morning, though he did not confirm his intentions. 

“The past 2 years here at OU as a Sooner I have made memories with friends and family that remind me how blessed I am,” Gabriel wrote. “I have been able to play football for an amazing group of coaches and alongside men who have become my brothers. More than anything I have grown in faith and love. I appreciate and cherish these memories and relationships forever. My time in The Palace was a game time experience I will never forget. Sooner Nation, you held me accountable and I am better for it. 

“Coach BV (Brent Venables), my coaches, and the football staff, I am grateful for your care, knowledge, and insight. Most of all, thanks for your faith in me and the opportunity to lead and be a member of OU’s team 128 and 129.”

The 5-foot-11 Gabriel transferred to Oklahoma — after initially committing to UCLA out of the portal — in 2022 after three years at UCF. He was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year last season and led the Sooners in 2023 with 3,660 yards passing and 30 touchdowns. He also rushed for 373 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

Arnold’s time to shine 

Oklahoma will now hand its offense over to ballyhooed freshman Jackson Arnold, someone with whom Sooners fans are already pretty familiar. He played in six regular season games in 2023 — burning his redshirt eligibility — and completed 18 of his 24 pass attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns. 

He saw plenty of opportunity to showcase his wares in a season-opening blowout win against Arkansas State, throwing for 114 yards and a touchdown, but he also got some game experience at crucial points during the season. Arnold played the entire second half against BYU in Week 12 after Gabriel left with injury, entering when the game was tied at 17-17 and helping the Sooners avoid a major upset by leading two touchdown drives over the final 30 minutes. 

Now Arnold gets an extra month of practice as Oklahoma’s presumed starting quarterback while it prepares for an Alamo Bowl showdown against Arizona. All signs point to Arnold, a former five-star prospect and No. 4 quarterback in the class of 2023, as being the future in Norman. 

What’s next for Gabriel? 

Gabriel certainly won’t lack options when looking for a new home. He’s been successful in every step of his career and finishes his time at Oklahoma with 6,823 yards passing and 55 touchdowns. He also rushed for 18 touchdowns and averaged almost 4 yards per rushing attempt. 

It’s worth noting that Oklahoma’s former offensive coordinator, Jeff Lebby, left in November to become Mississippi State’s next head coach. Gabriel is very familiar with Lebby, and Lebby’s hiring at Oklahoma in 2022 was a big reason Gabriel ended up in Norman in the first place. 

Gabriel signed with UCF in 2019 when Lebby — who was his primary recruiter — was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Gabriel started for the Knights as a true freshman and threw for 3,653 yards and 27 touchdowns. Almost 71% of Gabriel’s career yards passing and 65% of his career passing touchdowns have come with Lebby as his offensive coordinator. 

There’s no guarantee Gabriel takes his talents to Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs do have a glaring vacancy at quarterback after longtime starter and SEC record holder Will Rogers announced his intentions to transfer. Obviously, Gabriel is a perfect fit with tons of comfort in Lebby’s system. 

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