Fourteen months ago, the USC quarterback Caleb Williams Oklahoma had a freshman backup in the Red River Rivalry game against Texas, hoping to give the Sooners a spark.
Now, the 20-year-old has won the Heisman Trophy.
On Saturday in New York, Williams — as he has done on the field this year — left no doubt the Heisman was his, winning the award given to college football’s most outstanding player in a decisive victory. Williams beat Georgia Stetson Bennettof TCU Max Duggan and Ohio State CJ Strode for the award.
Williams received 544 first-place votes. His 2,031 points easily beat Duggan into second place. Strode finished third, followed by Bennett.
“I may be standing up here today, but you all have to go to the College Football Playoff,” Williams said in his acceptance speech, saluting the other finalists before him. “I guess you can’t win ’em all.”
In 13 games this season, Washington D.C. The former five-star recruit from the area rushed for 4,075 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns. Interruptions.
How he did it was through a series of consistent performances and highlight plays that left teammates, coaches and fans alike in awe. His creativity and vision almost never threw the ball away when plays broke down, instead turning scramble plays and potential sacks into electric runs or miraculous passes.
Williams’ performance goes beyond numbers and highlights. After head coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC last November, Williams was instrumental in the Trojans’ turnaround from a 4-8 season to an 11-win team.
“Although this is a personal award, I certainly understand that nothing is done alone in this game or in life,” Williams said.
Under Williams, USC started 8-0 for the first time since 2006 and defeated both rivals UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season for the first time since 2016.
Despite his age, Williams was given an important role when he joined Riley via transfer portal from Norman to Los Angeles. He is one of the only players who knows Riley’s style and his offense very well. At the age of 19, Williams became one of the team’s captains and second coach on the field.
Although they fell one game short of winning the Pac-12 title and playing in the College Football Playoff, Williams’ leadership in one year for USC helped the Trojans have one of the best turnarounds in the game. Both Williams and USC are likely to enter 2024 as Heisman and title contenders, respectively.
Williams joins Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as the third quarterback relay coach to win the award.
A product of Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC, Williams is the seventh official USC player to win the award (despite Reggie Bush’s 2005 Heisman vacancy) and the third quarterback from the school. He is the first Trojan quarterback to win since Matt Leinart in 2004.
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