OU closed out the season with a 35-32 loss to Florida State in the Cheez-It Bowl, but that won’t be Gabriel’s final game in a Sooners uniform. He announced Thursday that he will be back for the 2023 campaign.
Forever Home. Let’s do it again in 2023 🤙🏽🔥 pic.twitter.com/zx7tBPozkE
— Dillon Gabriel (@_dillongabriel_) January 5, 2023
The return of Gabriel is a big boost for Brent Venables’ program as the Sooners finished 6-7 in Venables’ first season as head coach. It marked the program’s first losing record since 1998.
Even after former coach Lincoln Riley departed for USC, Oklahoma was ranked in the top 10 when the season began and went 3-0 in non-conference play. However, the Sooners dropped their first three Big 12 games, including an ugly 49-0 defeat to Texas when Gabriel was sidelined with a concussion.
The Sooners then won back-to-back games before losing three of four to close out the regular season and then a closer-than-expected defeat to Florida State in the bowl game.
The return of Gabriel should help OU move back up the Big 12 standings before its impending exit to the SEC. As of now, that exit is scheduled for the 2025 season.
Gabriel technically has two seasons of eligibility remaining too. He played two full seasons at UCF, throwing for 7,223 yards and 61 touchdowns. One of those seasons was the 2020, which did not count against eligibility due to an NCAA ruling related to the pandemic. In 2021, he was injured in Week 3 and did not return. Because he played in just three games, that counts as a redshirt.