Lincoln Riley’s departure from Oklahoma to USC could have an even more negative effect for the Sooners than it already has. As soon as he took the Trojans’ head coach position a handful of top recruits followed, including 2023 five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson (the No. 3 overall ranked player in the entire class).
But Riley also left two five-star signal callers back in Norman: Spencer Rattler, who’s entered the transfer portal after being benched this past season, and Caleb Williams, the 2021 No. 1-ranked QB, out of Washington D.C. Williams replaced Rattler and played so well that he was even garnering Heisman hype after not starting until midseason.
Williams ➡️ Williams. 🔥
— 𝕆𝕂𝕃𝔸ℍ𝕆𝕄𝔸-𝕍𝕊-𝕋ℍ𝔼 𝕎𝕆ℝ𝕃𝔻 (@soonergridiron) November 20, 2021
Williams Popped On Scene Against Archrival Texas
Williams entered the game with Rattler struggling and scored on a 66-yard touchdown run as he led the Sooners back for a dramatic come-from-behind win.
4th & 1? Eh, let's just get 66 yards instead.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 9, 2021
His play prompted ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit to say the following on “The ESPN College Football Podcast”:
“I’m telling you, he gonna be the face of the sport for much of this year and definitely the next two years. Caleb Williams is a name, if you’re not familiar with, you need to become familiar with. He is going to be the face of college football because of the team and coach he plays for and because of how darn good he is and because he’s on a team that’s gonna be ranked in the top five all years he’s there and he’s just a guy that is electric and he is, as I say, must-see TV.”
That’s only partly true now with Riley departed for USC. The guy who came into your living room and told you he could do for you what he did for Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts jetted from the scene right after a tough “Bedlam” loss to archrival Oklahoma State.
Now what does Caleb do? Stay and finish what he started in Norman or bounce to L.A. himself?
New Head Coach Brent Venables May Need A Home Run OC Hire To Keep Williams In Norman
To replace Riley, the Sooners are bringing in Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who just may be the best defensive mind in college football. Venables was at Oklahoma in a variety of positions, including defensive coordinator from 1999-2011 under then-head coach Bob Stoops.
Venables announced on Tuesday that he’s spoken to Caleb and his father in an effort to do some damage control and avoid losing a Heisman candidate at the most important position on the field.
“I have to spoken to Caleb. Reached out to him and his father yesterday. There’s nobody that’s more important to recruit than your players every day.”
The uber-talented true freshman went 116-185 for 1,674 yards, 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 10 games this season.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) November 21, 2021
Per Reports, Ole Miss OC Jeff Lebby Is Coming To Norman In Same Role
Bringing in Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby is a great move and should really allow Oklahoma to still have a dynamic offense. But they’ll need Caleb to stick around to do so, as Lebby is a proven QB developer. He’s worked with Matt Corral (Ole Miss/future first-round pick) and Dillon Gabriel (UCF/future draft pick).
The tutelage each received under Lebby may not be to the pedigree of a guidance under Lincoln Riley, but it’s not too shabby. In fact, Lebby’s offense is a good fit for Williams’ skill set. The quick game, vertical passing inside and outside the numbers, and a strong running game. It’s a scheme designed to take what the defense gives you and then when they try to take that away you take your home run shots.
Another day at the office for Caleb Williams 😤
23-30 | 402 YDS | 6 TD | 0 INT
— Overtime (@overtime) October 30, 2021
It will accentuate the elite arm strength of Williams, who’ll also use his legs, which we saw him do plenty this season under Riley. Caleb will still be a Heisman candidate in Lebby’s offense. Another plus is that all the position coaches have been retained, so that means there’s continuity in place.
Hard to describe how thankful we are as a family for the last two years – what an incredible ride it has been – THANK YOU Ole Miss – THANK YOU Oxford – #HYDR #Family #ScoredFromFar pic.twitter.com/jzJF3zjHG4
— Jeff Lebby (@Coach_Leb) December 9, 2021
Williams’ Decision Could Be Difference Between Competitive Stability And Rebuild
If Caleb stays he’ll provide the Sooners with the stability they desperately need from the most vital position. They will be in the top 10 next season. If he leaves they could see a rebuild in Norman.
Do the right thing and stay, Caleb, and no matter how it turns out you’ll be forever enshrined in “Boomer Sooner” lore.