🏈 What will Caleb Williams do?
All eyes are on Caleb Williams with the Sooners' bowl game out of the way and the freshman's future with OU in question.
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🤔 Decisions, decisions
Caleb Williams is taking some time off.
He deserves it.
Perhaps we were too optimistic to believe Williams would announce his 2022 plans immediately after Oklahoma beat Oregon 47-32 in San Antonio on Wednesday.
Rather, Williams dodged questions about his future. He has an upcoming family trip on his mind.
“After all these ups and downs, I want to go on vacation, spend time with my family and focus on that,” Williams told reporters following the Alamo Bowl. “And that's it.”
Hard to blame Williams for needing a minute to breathe and not think about football. He’s been the center of attention in Norman since he led the Sooners to an improbable Red River Showdown win this past October.
Sure, his former head coach stirred the pot with his Southern California departure that captivated the college football world for a chaotic post-Bedlam Sunday. But the focus quickly shifted back to Williams’ status with the team after the shock wore off of Riley’s exit.
From everything we saw the past few weeks, Williams played the role of leader well for a football program that didn’t have many left entering its Wednesday night bowl game.
No Nik Bonitto. No Isaiah Thomas. No Brian Asamoah. No Jadon Haselwood. Just a true freshman quarterback, who’s been forced to grow up quickly this season.
Now, he has a decision to make.
Here’s what we know of Williams’ situation:
Williams didn’t want to ditch his teammates before the season ended, which is commendable in an age where the transfer portal has become one of the dominant subsections of the college football discourse. Said Williams, “I was focused on finishing the semester off strong, being with my guys, making sure all of my guys that won't be here next year. … I have the chance to be here. … all my guys that won't be here next year, they go off on the right note.”
Williams confirmed he's communicated plenty with new OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. The potential duo spoke on the phone daily while Williams and the team were in San Antonio for bowl prep, Williams said.
Take his word or not, the first-year OU quarterback likes the hire of Brent Venables. “I think Oklahoma chose the right guy to come here and be the head guy,” the frosh said, “and we’ll see how Oklahoma does and how I decide.”
Key words: “We’ll see.”
It feels like a tossup as to what Williams will do at this point. But OU not securing Williams’ long-term commitment won’t be for a lack of trying. Venables and Lebby even have assistance from Bob Stoops on the recruiting trail.
If Williams were to return to Norman, he’d have one hell of an offensive coordinator, who turned Matt Corral into one of the most attractive options in the 2022 NFL Draft, to mentor him.
If he leaves, it’s hard to blame the 18-year-old who still has two years left until he can declare for the draft to find a home that he believes fits him better.
Seats going fast
Williams’ transfer options are quickly becoming limited. A short list of high-profile quarterbacks that have already committed to transferring this cycle or are in the transfer portal:
Zach Calzada (Texas A&M) ➡️Undecided
Quinn Ewers (Ohio State) ➡️ Texas
Dillon Gabriel (Central Florida) ➡️ UCLA
Max Johnston (LSU) ➡️ Texas A&M
Adrian Martinez (Nebraska) ➡️ Kansas State
Jack Miller (Ohio State) ➡️Florida
Bo Nix (Auburn) ➡️ Oregon
Michael Penix Jr. (Indiana) ➡️ Washington
Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) ➡️ South Carolina
Kedon Slovis (Southern Cal) ➡️ Pitt
Casey Thompson (Texas) ➡️ Undecided
Cameron Ward (Incarnate Word) ➡️ Undecided
🔍 NFL Draft tracker
Plenty of OU’s players have the opportunity to pursue the NFL draft this coming spring. A look at who’s already declared for the draft:
LB Brian Asamoah
DE Nik Bonitto
K Gabe Brkic
RB Kennedy Brooks
HB Jeremiah Hall
DL Perrion Winfrey
DL Isaiah Thomas
Biggest loss so far: It’s hard to pick between Bonitto and Brooks. Bonitto is one of the most talented edge rushers OU’s seen come through its program in some time, while Brooks’ reliability in the run game will be severely missed. I’d lean Bonitto, purely for how rare of a player like him comes to OU. I’d assume Brent Venables plans to change that narrative.
Most surprising departure: Brkic is really the only name I’ve been shocked to see tweet out a graphic that they’re bolting for the pros. Brkic had a rough finish to his third season as OU’s starting kicker and maybe could have bolstered his stock with a better 2022. Still, Brkic has a bright NFL future and put together quite the follow-up act to Austin Seibert.
🏆 Playoff predictions
Alabama 38, Cincinnati 28: Cincinnati star quarterback Desmond Ridder does his best to bring down the Crimson Tide, but the Bearcats haven’t seen an offense like Alabama’s. I’m expecting Bryce Young to further solidify his legacy with a playoff win in his first appearance as the Tide’s starting quarterback. A lack of depth also tends to get the best of teams when facing Alabama, which is scarily finding itself after a season where it looked as beatable as ever.
Michigan 45, Georgia 40: Jim Harbaugh is rewriting his Michigan tenure with a Wolverines team that beat Ohio State, won the Big Ten and is a win away from a national championship berth in Indianapolis. Now, they face a Georgia squad that looked unstoppable at times during the 2021 season. This figures to be a close contest, but I’m betting on the team with the best player on the field — Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson.
⏰ On this day
Forty-nine years ago today, No. 2 Oklahoma beat No. 5 Penn State 14-0 in the Sugar Bowl. The win helped the Sooners finish the 1972 season at 11-1. The game was ultimately Chuck Fairbanks' last as OU's head football coach before taking the same job with the NFL’s New England Patriots.