USC quarterback Caleb Williams wins Heisman Trophy
USC quarterback Caleb Williams has won the Heisman Trophy, making him the eighth USC player to win college football’s most prestigious award, breaking a tie with Oklahoma, Ohio State and Notre Dame for the all-time record.
Williams, a sophomore who transferred to USC from Oklahoma prior to this season after the Trojans hired away former Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley, beat out a trio of other quarterbacks — Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, TCU’s Max Duggan and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett.
Those three all led their teams to college football’s four-team playoffs, while the Trojans narrowly missed out on the playoffs thanks to their loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game.
Williams took the stage in New York City Saturday to accept the award in a custom tan suit designed by Gucci and Adidas. He began his remarks by saying, “Thank you, thank you. This is awesome, this is really awesome.”
After acknowledging his fellow finalists, Williams told them, “I may be standing up here today, but you all get to go to the college bowl playoffs,” getting a round of applause and laughter, then adding, “Guess you can’t win ’em all.”
Williams thanked his fellow Trojans on stage, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer. In the crowd were his athletic director, Mike Bohn, whom he thanked on behalf of his whole team. To Riley, who encouraged him to come to USC as a walk- on, he said, “We’ve committed to each other twice.”
He quoted Riley and revealed something about his personal journey to the Heisman stage: “There can never be a great book or a great story without some adversity in it.”
Williams told his story of being told he was too small to play quarterback, among many other setbacks and heartaches he encountered, then spoke directly to young people who have also shared the experience of being told that they are too small, saying, “Go out there and show them how big your heart is.”
He finished his speech on an emotional note, thanking his mother and his father for their decisive roles in his success.
Williams earned 544 first-place votes and a total of 2,031 votes. Duggan was the runner-up, with 1,420 total votes.
The gambling site betmgm.com had listed Williams as a -2500 favorite, meaning a better would have to wager $2,500 on Williams to win $100. Duggan was second at +2000, or 20 to 1.
The publication Vegas Insider was less certain, but still listed Williams as a -1600 favorite, with Duggan at +1400.
The Washington, D.C. native completed 296 of 448 passes this year — a 66.1% completion percentage — for 4,075 yards and 37 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He also rushed 109 times for 372 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 47 combined touchdowns were the most in college football this season and the most in Trojans history in a single season.
He is not eligible for the NFL draft until 2024, meaning that USC will have him for at least one more season. Many analysts think he is likely to be the first player chosen in the 2024 NFL draft.
Williams has said he plans to play in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, when USC will take on Tulane.
On Thursday, he won the Maxwell Award as the best player in college football and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.
Williams would be the third quarterback coached by Riley to win the Heisman, after Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray in 2018. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts finished second to LSU’s Joe Burrow in the 2019 voting.
Previous Heisman winners from USC are Mike Garrett in 1965, O.J. Simpson in 1968, Charles White in 1979, Marcus Allen in 1981, Carson Palmer in 2002, Matt Leinart in 2004 and Reggie Bush in 2005. Bush’s win was later vacated by the Heisman Trophy Trust after the NCAA said he received impermissible benefits from a marketing agency during his days as a USC student athlete.