2022 Heisman Profile: Caleb Williams

Heisman profile Caleb Williams

EDITOR’S NOTE; Caleb Williams won the 2022 Heisman Trophy as the player of the year in college football. He is USC’s 7th official Heisman winner, (with 2005 having been vacated). He is the Trojans’ first official Heisman winner since Matt Leinart in 2004. Lincoln Riley joins Tommy Prothro as the only head coaches to produce Heisman winners at different schools. Riley coached Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray at Oklahoma.

Williams had 544 first-place votes and a total of 2,031 points. TCU’s Max Duggan was second with 188 first-place votes and 1,420 points. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud finished third and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett finished fourth.

Below in the profile we ran on Williams prior to the awarding of the Heisman


2022 Heisman profile: Caleb Williams has gone from a headline transfer in Lincoln Riley’s first year at USC to a Heisman front-runner in a matter of about a month.

Norman To Los Angeles

He made headlines in Norman in 2021 as he replaced the highly touted Spencer Rattler at quarterback. Ultimately it caused Rattler to transfer to South Carolina. Riley would leave to take over at USC, and Williams followed him. In his condensed season at Oklahoma, Williams had 1,912 pass yards, 21 touchdowns, and four interceptions.

At Southern California, he not only joined his former head coach from Oklahoma but also got his go-to receiver from Norman, Mario Williams. The blending of transfers on offense proved to be potent, as they had to often overcome significant shortcomings on defense.

The Numbers

In his first year at USC, Williams threw for 4,075 yards with 37 touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed his passes at a 66.1% clip. What made him more dangerous than others was his ability to use his legs to keep plays alive and even pick up positive yardage when his blocking broke down. He had 10 rushing touchdowns with 372 yards. If you really want to go granular on his stats, he averaged 42 yards per punt. You read that right. He “quick kicked” twice during the season for 84 total yards.

If there was a stretch that put him over the top in the Heisman conversation it was the last three games of the season against UCLA, Notre Dame, and the conference championship against Utah. It was a run against three ranked teams and Williams shined a little brighter. The Trojans had lost starting running back Travis Dye to an injury the week before the UCLA game, so Williams was having to carry even more of the load.

The Critical Run

In that three-game stretch at the end of the season, he averaged 355 yards throwing per game for a total of 1,065 yards. He had six touchdown passes and two interceptions and completed 74% of his passes. USC beat UCLA, and Notre Dame, but lost the conference championship game to Utah.

He got a lot of attention for what football TV people love to call “grit,” in the Pac-12 championship game.  In the first quarter, he suffered what was later described as a “significant” hamstring injury in the loss to Utah. After breaking off a 59-yard run, Williams said he felt the pop in his hamstring. After being looked at by the USC medical staff in the sideline tent, he stayed in for the rest of the game. Riley said, after the game, that he left it up to Williams, and his quarterback essentially refused to come out. He was significantly hobbled the rest of the game, and not nearly as elusive in a pass rush. But the determination to try to play through an injury in the most important game of the year, (USC was in the running for a playoff spot), caught the panelist’s attention.

Williams is a true sophomore, so not draft-eligible for the NFL for one more year.

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