The Oklahoma Sooners entered the 2021 college football season with the best odds to win the program’s first national championship since 2000.
Led by preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler and the offensive genius of then head coach Lincoln Riley, “Boomer Sooner” looked primed to win it all. With the No.10 ranked recruiting class in tow, led by five-star QB Caleb Williams, things in Norman couldn’t have been better.
But the Sooners struggled out the gate with close calls agsinst Tulane (40-35), Nebraska (23-16) and West Virginia (16-13). Losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State kept the Sooners from playing in the Big 12 title game.
Starting quarterback Rattler was supposed to have a Hesiman campaign, but his inconsistency resulted in his benching. In the midst of all this, Williams was thrust into action with the Sooners trailing arch-rival Texas by 25 points in the “Red River Rivalry.” Williams led the Sooners back for the 55-48 win.
From that moment forward, he shined through and through, taking Rattler’s job in the process.
With Lincoln Riley leaving Norman for USC, fans wondered if Williams would follow the coach who recruited him to Hollywood. On Monday, Williams announced he’s entering the transfer portal, but the possibility of returning to Oklahoma is still in play. Similar to a free agent at the pro level, the rising star wants to explore all of his options. Touring USC might be in the plans.
“I think we all come to college to find our own path and prepare for the future,” Williams said in a Tweet. “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.”
— Caleb Williams (@CALEBcsw) January 3, 2022
Rattler transferred to South Carolina last month. So the Sooners are currently without their last two five-star QB commits.
Williams Was Non-Committal After Bowl Game: So Monday’s Announcement Comes As No Surprise
Following OU’s 47-32 Valero Alamo Bowl win over Oregon, Williams refused to commit to returning for his sophomore season. Williams was dynamite in his seven starts for the Sooners and even garnered some midseason Heisman chatter for his play. Williams lit it up through the air and on the ground, passing for 1,912 yards with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions on a 65 percent completion percentage. He also rushed for 442 yards and six touchdowns on 79 carries, showing his complete dual-threat ability.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) December 30, 2021
It was expected that Williams would at least explore other opprotunities once Riley stepped off and took the bag after the season-finale loss to Oklahoma State. Williams committed to Oklahaoma because of Riley’s reputation as a quarterback guru. Riley’s known for developing NFL QBs such as Jalen Hurts and Heisman winners and No. 1 overall draft picks Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield.
Riley’s ability to develop QBs is unmatched.
Not a bad run of QBs for Oklahoma 😳 pic.twitter.com/JTRuvH41UH
— ESPN (@espn) January 16, 2019
Although other schools can now recruit the Heisman candidate, Oklahoma isn’t giving up without a fight. Athletics director Joe Castiglione and head coach Brent Venables releases a joint statement following Williams’ announcement.
Statement from Joe Castiglione and Brent Venables on today’s announcement by Caleb Williams: pic.twitter.com/qGHlDqIDp2
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) January 3, 2022
Where Will Williams Land? USC???
Many believe USC is the front-runner to land the services of Williams with Lincoln Riley now the head coach at Southern Cal. But one has to wonder how Williams and his family feel after Riley jettisoned from Oklahoma overnight. Caleb’s dad, Carl stressed that no destination has been chosen, but the ability to develop him into an NFL quarterback is the most important factor in where he chooses to sign.
Carl Williams, father of Caleb Williams, tells @YahooSports that the family has followed the NCAA process his son “doesn’t have a destination” picked out. He's wide open. Williams stressed that preparing his son to be an NFL quarterback is going to be the most important factor.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 3, 2022
They’ll be many teams looking to add the talented signal-caller as a player of his skill set can change the trajectory of a program overnight. Expect Georgia, Auburn, Miami and other top Power Five programs to be all in on Williams. The Sooners still have a good chance of retaining him, but they’ll have to wait until he explores other avenues as the top transfer prospect in the nation.
Sooners Added Offensive Coordinator Jeff Lebby: He Can Prepare Williams For The Pros
Lebby is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. He arrived from Ole Miss where he just developed Matt Corral into a potential top 10-15 pick in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft. In fact, Williams and Corral have similar skill sets.
Both possess strong, accurate arms, great mobility and a toughness not usually associated with QBs. But again, Riley’s unmatched in his QB development, so that could be the deciding factor as to whether Caleb heads west. Either way, he won’t make a wrong decision, should it be returning to Norman or following his former coach to USC.
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