Austin Kendall’s time at Oklahoma officially came to a close Friday.
And with his decision, OU’s game against West Virginia in 2019 became much more intriguing.
The former OU backup quarterback announced he will join the Mountaineers as a graduate transfer. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning this fall.
“Thank you Sooner Nation for an amazing three years,” Kendall wrote. “I will never forget the connections and opportunities at OU. There’s only one. I am excited in this next step in my life and opportunity at West Virginia University.”
OU and West Virginia meet Oct. 19 in Norman.
Kendall’s departure marks the end of a tough battle for playing time with the Sooners. He arrived as a four-star prospect from North Carolina, committing seven months before OU would bring Kyler Murray in as a transfer from Texas A&M.
Kendall backed up Baker Mayfield in 2016, redshirted in 2017 and was relegated to reserve duty again last fall behind Murray.
There was no doubt Kendall could play. At 6 foot 2, 218 pounds he possessed strong pocket presence, showed effective mobility and drew rave reviews from OU coach Lincoln Riley after competing with Murray for the 2018 starting job.
“What he did over the last several months did work,” Riley said last August. “He’s a much, much improved player. It’s going to help him a lot going forward.”
But just as Murray and Mayfield’s talents — both players won the Heisman Trophy — made it difficult for Kendall to see the field, so too did the involvement of another transfer quarterback.
Last week, Kendall entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal after learning OU had been pursuing graduate transfer quarterback and former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts.
While awaiting a decision from Hurts on Wednesday, OU blocked Kendall’s attempt to gain immediate eligibility at West Virginia or any another Big 12 school. The Sooners later relented after Hurts committed.
In a statement to the Tulsa World, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said, “we think the world of Austin Kendall. He has the freedom to make whatever decision [continue at OU or transfer] he believes is in his best interest. He has been a terrific student athlete for the University of Oklahoma.”
Assuming Hurts wins OU’s starting job, he’ll likely face off with Kendall in the next game against West Virginia, which is replacing Heisman candidate Will Grier. Kendall was recruited out of high school by West Virginia coach Neal Brown, who was Kentucky’s offensive coordinator in 2013-14.
Kendall told the Tulsa World on Friday there are no hard feelings toward Riley or OU and that he expects a “great game” between the Sooners and Mountaineers this fall.
“I talked to [Riley] the other day, and it was nothing but respect,” Kendall told the paper. “I told him that I learned so much.”
throughout my years, especially with Baker [Mayfield] and Kyler [Murray]. Being behind those guys helped me a tremendous amount. I told him he’s done so much for me and I really appreciate it.”