Perception isn’t always reality. Spencer Rattler proving that in South Carolina debut

If you have to blink a little, that's okay.
Yes - this is Spencer Rattler seated at a table in the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility.
Yes - he's wearing a South Carolina football jersey.
No - this is not a farce.
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It has been nearly nine months since Rattler's decision to join USC. He's been on campus since the Spring Ball. But there's something about the bevy of reporters who gathered around the gunslinger with the golden arms during South Carolina's media day on Thursday that makes the Rattler era seem real in Colombia.
However, understanding the bizarre cloud of perceptions surrounding the embattled former Oklahoma quarterback is another challenge in itself.
"I think he's very misunderstood by a lot of people," said Kentucky quarterback Will Levis - who worked with Rattler at Manning Passing Academy this summer - at the SEC Media Days in July. "He's a really good guy and a damn good quarterback."
Rattler's winding history is well-documented and frankly not really worth going to trial for the umpteenth time this offseason. He was a preseason Heisman Trophy contender a year ago who lost his starting job and quite unexpectedly - if we take it lightly - ended up in South Carolina.
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That's the short version.
The complexity in Rattler's larger national perception stems from perceived baggage that predates last fall. His appearance on Netflix's "QB1: Beyond the Lights" put him in a bad light as a high school prospect after he was suspended for, among other things, violating a county code of conduct that barred him for the remainder of the season depicted in did the show.
Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer has dismissed the Netflix version of his star quarterback as a young man. Levis said he respects how Rattler has matured since starring on national television as a high school student.
Rattler's new and old South Carolina teammates expressed similar sentiments.
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"I don't know where they got the bad from," receiver Antwane "Juice" Wells Jr. told The State. "He was younger and in high school. you grow up I probably did that stuff in high school—especially if you carry a fat camera with you all the time.”
"He's always been the number one quarterback in the country since he was like a freshman in high school, so people always assume that if you have that status, you're going to be a bad guy," tight end Austin said groaner. who transferred from OU to South Carolina with Rattler. “He's really a great guy and really down to earth. Ask anyone here what they think of Spencer and it's the complete opposite of what the media is trying to say.
Rattler, asked why he thinks people have the perception they have of him, grinned and threw up his arms on Thursday. Laughter broke out around him.
The moment was innocent, almost cheerful. It's part of what makes outward thoughts about the latest Gamecock quarterback so confusing — on paper, at least.
Spend just a few minutes around Rattler and you can see why players are drawn to him. He is charismatic and confident. He answers questions with thought and intrigue. He's legitimately funny, poking fun at how he beat offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield on the golf course this summer.
There are a few clichés scattered here and there, but that's natural when you've been asked the same questions for nearly an hour as reporters and television crews pedal through the speed-dating style of South Carolina's media day.
"You know as much as I do," Rattler joked about his external perception. "I don't know, man. I am simply myself. They obviously like to judge by the Netflix series, which is "reality TV" — but that's five years ago.
“Will (Levis) is a good guy. As long as I have people like that behind me, these great coaches and my teammates, that's all that matters."
Rattler is under the magnifying glass in every respect in 2022. Playmaking responsibility will fall to other parts of South Carolina's seemingly revived offense, but the junior quarterback is the engine that will make this unit work.
Questions about Rattler will linger well into the season. Good, bad, or mediocre, his play becomes the talk of the Palmetto State and across the country.
For now, however, Rattler is saying and doing all the right things in South Carolina.
Squint if you must, but this old Netflix show's star seems to have matured. A few touchdowns and an upset win or two this fall, and Rattler will open far more eyes than he already has.
Spencer Rattler
American football quarterback
Steve Spurrier
Football Head Coach

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