ESPN analyst reveals timeline, key factors for transfer quarterback Caleb Williams
Caleb Williams is most interested in whichever program can best position him to be the top quarterback selected in an upcoming NFL Draft, but a decision might not be imminent.
That’s from ESPN’s college football insider Pete Thamel, who went on SportsCenter Wednesday to detail the former Sooners’ quarterback’s timeline as he looks for his new home.
“This is all nebulous, the Williams’ first (recruiting) process when Caleb was in high school took a year and a half,” Thamel said. “Carl (Williams) said we’ve got to do it now in two weeks. So, it could be as soon as the end of this week, but there’s also schools on the quarter system where they could wait until March. They want to see how NFL hires that could trickle down to college shake out, because they really want NFL training for Caleb Williams to best prepare him for pro football.
Williams announced on Jan. 3 that he’d enter the transfer portal but still keep a return to Oklahoma on the table. Since then, OU has added former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel and are rumored frontrunners for former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart.
The star freshman was recently in Los Angeles with his family on vacation, but Thamel reported that Williams has indeed met with USC and UCLA, as well as held zoom conversations with a number of other programs.
“The family is weighing their options and Carl Williams, his dad, told me last night, ‘NFL, not NIL’ is the guiding light of what the family is doing,” Thamel said. “They want to go to the place that best prepares him for the NFL and best prepares him to be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.”
That’s in keeping with what Thamel reported shortly after Williams went into the portal. The messaging has been the same from the Williamses camp all along: the NFL is Williams’ priority.
To that end, it’s hard to see how USC couldn’t be the biggest threat to land his services. The Trojans boast Williams’ former coach in Lincoln Riley, a man who coached three different quarterbacks to NFL Draft selections while at OU. Both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray were Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall selections in their respective drafts after playing for Riley at Oklahoma.
Jalen Hurts transferred to OU after playing for Alabama, Riley adapted his attack to better fit Hurts’ style, and then was selected in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2020 NFL Draft. He started the final four games of the 2020 season, then 15 games in 2021.
Williams is already a star, so it’s not a surprise to hear he’s looking ahead to his future. After taking over the Sooners’ starting job during the Texas game, Williams was electric. He was named to the 247Sports and ESPN True Freshman All-America teams after throwing for 1,912 yards, 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions, while rushing for 442 yards and another six scores. Williams finished the season fourth nationally in total QBR (86.5), behind Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, and Georgia’s national title winner Stetson Bennett.