One of the best college football quarterbacks of the 2021 season, Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams, entered the transfer portal.
Williams announced his decision to enter the portal on Monday, a move that isn’t all that surprising considering Williams coach Lincoln Riley left the Sooners for USC. In fact, Williams, who becomes the second Sooners quarterback to enter the transfer portal this offseason, after Spencer Rattler, mentioned that reasoning in his announcement:
Williams’ father Carl said Pete Thamel from Yahoo! sports that becoming an NFL quarterback was a key factor in helping his son play for Oklahoma. It will also influence where you decide to transfer to. That said, the rising sophomore could finally stay in Oklahoma, a possibility he mentioned in his ad. That could be new coach Brent Venables’ first major recruiting battle at Norman, although his recent hiring of Ole Miss offensive coordinator / quarterback coach Jeff Lebby will certainly make a persuasive argument for Williams to remain a Sooner. .
But Williams will have no shortage of other schools knocking on his door now that he’s on the portal. He completed 137 of 212 passes (64.6 percent) for 1,916 yards and 21 touchdowns with four interceptions as a freshman in 2021. He also added 79 carries for 442 yards and six touchdowns. In short, he is one of the most talented signal communicators in college football and would represent a massive improvement as a quarterback for almost every school in the country.
With that, Sporting News breaks down five possible transfer destinations for Williams:
The Trojans on paper appear to be one of the main suitors for Williams, who initially chose Oklahoma because of Riley’s track record in developing NFL quarterbacks (two No. 1 overall picks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, plus second-round pick Jalen Hurts. Mayfield and Murray also won the Heisman Trophy, while Hurts finished second in the vote).
The simplest move that aligns with Williams’ goal of playing in the NFL would be to follow his coach from Norman to Los Angeles. It’s an even more viable option considering Kedon Slovis has transferred to Pitt, leaving only Jaxson Dart to fight for the job. Malachi Nelson, the No. 2 quarterback in the class of 2023, won’t attend USC until 2023. There won’t be a bigger brand looking to Williams’ services (at least, one that really has a need at the job. ).
Would Dabo Swinney welcome another quarterback with DJ Uiagalelei still at the start? The best signing class pro-style quarterback of 2020 fought for the Tigers in 2021, completing 208 of 374 passes (55.6 percent) with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 103 carries for 316 yards and four touchdowns.
That was good enough to lead the Tigers to a 10-3 record, but Clemson has higher aspirations than double-digit wins. And Swinney has shown a willingness to replace his starter if there’s a better option available: just look at Kelly Bryant in 2018. Swinney benched the senior, who had led the Tigers to the college football playoff for just one season. before, in favor of a true freshman. Trevor Lawrence, who led Clemson to an undefeated season.
Lawrence was ultimately No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, following Deshaun Watson (No. 12 in the 2017 NFL Draft) as Clemson’s first-round picks. The pipeline is in place, and Williams will have no shortage of opportunities to prove himself in a program with more realistic championship aspirations than Oklahoma.
Matt Corral has probably played his last game for the Rebels, which leaves a huge hole at the top position. Williams might not be a one-to-one comparison to Corral, who is considered a first-round draft pick, but Williams’s ability to run and pass should attract a lot of attention from Lane Kiffin.
Ole Miss would be an attractive choice for a number of reasons, including Kiffin’s work history with future NFL quarterbacks: Corral on Ole Miss; Tua Tagovailoa and Hurts in Alabama; and Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC. Not only does Kiffin have a track record of producing next-level talent, he also has an aggressive offense that features quarterback runs. Corral threw for 3,343 yards and 20 touchdowns for five interceptions in 2021, adding 614 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
The transfer to Ole Miss would also give Williams the opportunity to play in the SEC, which consistently produces the most NFL talent of any major conference in college football. If Williams could be successful in the SEC, he would go a long way in demonstrating his skill to the NFL scouts who frequent Rebels games.
Texas A&M has already signed former LSU quarterback Max Johnson, but coach Jimbo Fisher would certainly welcome a player of Williams’ caliber. Fisher also has a history of working with the best quarterbacks in the NFL: JaMarcus Russell at LSU and Jameis Winston at Florida State. Both players were No. 1 overall in the 2007 and 2015 NFL drafts, respectively. Kellen Mond was an A&M third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Aggies, like Ole Miss, compete outside of SEC West, where teams like Alabama, LSU and Auburn regularly send players to the NFL. But Fisher has also secured the first class in modern recruiting history, one that would certainly help make the most of Williams’ talents. Those kinds of signings from 2022, along with Fisher’s history of producing NFL quarterbacks, could make College Station a tempting destination.
Maryland could get Williams’ attention considering the Washington, DC product had the Terrapins among its finalists before committing to Riley in Oklahoma. If Williams moved to Maryland, he would continue his soccer career just half an hour from where he played at Gonzaga College High School.
The Terrapins also have head coach Mike Locksley and offensive coordinator / quarterback coach Dan Enos, who were on Alabama’s coaching staff in 2018. That Tide team produced 16 future NFL Draft picks on offense. , including quarterbacks Tagovailoa (No. 5 overall in 2020) and Mac Jones (No. 15 in 2021).
It is unclear if junior Taulia Tagovailoa will declare for the 2022 NFL Draft; if it does, Maryland could be a prime destination for Williams. That could be the case even if Taulia Tagovailoa returns for her senior season, though it remains to be seen if Williams is interested in a meaningful quarterback battle.