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Ex-UCF QB Dillon Gabriel flips commitment from UCLA to Oklahoma

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Oklahoma didn’t wait long.

Just hours after Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams announced he would put his name into the transfer portal, OU landed a commitment from another transfer quarterback: Dillon Gabriel.

Gabriel, the starter at UCF for the past three seasons, announced Monday night that he has committed to the Sooners.

Gabriel previously announced he would continue his career at UCLA, but has reversed course.

At Oklahoma, Gabriel will reunite with Jeff Lebby. Lebby, now the offensive coordinator at OU, recruited Gabriel to UCF. Lebby was the quarterbacks coach at UCF in 2018 and then the OC for the Knights in 2019, Gabriel’s freshman season.

Lebby spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, but now he is on the new staff of Brent Venables at Oklahoma.

Gabriel put up huge numbers at UCF

Lebby, an OU graduate, knows firsthand what Gabriel brings to the table.

Gabriel, a lefty out of Hawaii, was limited to three games in 2021 due to a broken collarbone suffered in Week 3. In those three games, Gabriel threw for 818 yards and nine touchdowns while completing 68.6% of his attempts. Gabriel announced his departure on Nov. 27, a day after UCF's regular season finale. He announced a commitment to UCLA on Dec. 16 but never signed.

Before 2021, Gabriel put up huge numbers. As a freshman, he beat out Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush for the starting role and threw for 3,653 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In 10 games in 2020, Gabriel threw for 3,570 yards and 32 TDs with just four interceptions.

With it looking likely that Williams will move on, Gabriel fills an immediate need for the Sooners. OU also signed four-star recruit Nick Evers in the class of 2022.

Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel looks for a receiver against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel looks for a receiver against Stanford during the first half in 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Caleb Williams leaving Oklahoma?

Williams was a 5-star recruit in the 2021 class who became a star after replacing Spencer Rattler during the Texas game in October. He held onto the starting job for the remainder of the season, including in last week’s Alamo Bowl win over Oregon.

The Sooners played the Alamo Bowl without head coach Lincoln Riley, who shockingly left for USC the day after the regular season finale. After Riley’s departure, Oklahoma hired Venables as its new head coach. Venables was the defensive coordinator at Clemson and was an assistant at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2011.

Williams cited the “recent changes” at Oklahoma in the statement announcing he would explore a transfer. He also said staying at Oklahoma would “definitely” be an option.

“I think we all come to college to find our own path and prepare for the future. I came to Oklahoma with a game plan, but with all of the recent changes, I need to figure out what is the right path for me moving forward,” Williams said.

Carl Williams, Caleb’s father, told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel that “professional development” is the key factor in determining where Caleb will continue his playing career.

“We want Caleb to be ready to play when he becomes a pro. You go to college to get prepared for your career. His chosen career path is professional football. We want him to be prepared for when that time comes," Carl Williams told Thamel.

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