No one was surprised that his name was called for the most prestigious hardware in sports the Saturday night.
After all, Caleb Williams displayed moxie, toughness, passion and a winning mentality throughout the 2022 season. There’s no denying he put USC back on the map with his heroics on the gridiron. Which is mind-boggling, considering the Trojans were a 4-8 team a year ago.
However, the arrival of Coach Lincoln Riley to Los Angeles, along with the talented gunslinger, changed the culture of the sleeping giant program overnight. Riley assembled a plethora of weapons around Williams and he simply took care of the rest. The 20-year old shredded defenses week after week with his talented arm, and kept the opposition honest with breathtaking mobility.
And once the smoke cleared, Williams finished with 4,075 passing yards and 37 touchdown tosses. Not only was his yards through the air the second-best ever in a single-season by a Trojan signal-caller, but Williams also tied for first in the FBS in touchdown passes. The Washington D.C. native led the Pac-12 in yards per pass attempt and completion too.
Williams led USC to victories over rivals Notre Dame and UCLA, and both are currently ranked in the AP top-20. In short, the former five-star prospect basically delivered on all of the hype he arrived on campus with. He showed every game that great quarterbacks make others around them better. Not to mention the rest of USC’s offense always fed off his energy.
However, when a players is on top, there’s always plenty of critics that want to see them fail. It’s no mystery that after Williams took the Pac-12 by storm, he was under a microscope, and everything he did got scrutinized. The 20-year old caught so much flack for what he painted on his fingernails in the Pac-12 Championship, that it took away some of the spotlight from Utah. And that solidified his influence and popularity in today’s game.
Millions of fans wanted to paint him as College football’s new villain because of the ordeal, and failed to realize he’s just a 20-year old kid, who packs a ton of passion in what he does. Losing to twice to Utah twice made Superman with the red cape look human. Clearly the Utes was Williams’ kryptonite, and they snatched the red carpet from under him.
Many believe if Williams didn’t pull his hamstring in the Pac-12 Championship, USC would be in the Playoffs. Still, he was humbled on the biggest stage and had to take that loss on the chin. The greatest competitors hate to lose, and the post game press conference revealed Williams is no exception.
At the end of the day though, Williams still took home the Maxwell Award, plus he earned the Walter Camp and AP Player of the Year honors. Becoming USC’s eighth Heisman winner was just the cherry on top for six-foot-one, 216-pounder. He’s also the school’s first quarterback to earn the trophy since 2004.
It’s still up in the air if Williams will be fully healthy to play against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. Regardless of the matter, Williams doesn’t have anything to prove. He’s only a true sophomore, so he’ll be back for 2023. And everyone knows he would be the first quarterback selected in the 2023 NFL Draft if Williams was eligible.
Despite missing out on a Pac-12 Title and the Playoffs, Williams should be hungrier than ever to accomplish those feats next season. And that’s a scary thought for the rest of the College football world.