Caleb Williams torches Greg McElroy for saying he ‘never experienced adversity'

Caleb Williams torches Greg McElroy for saying he ‘never experienced adversity' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

USC quarterback Caleb Williams refuted a claim that the projected No. 1 overall pick has "never experienced adversity."

ESPN analyst Greg McElroy expressed concern on the "This is Football" podcast that Williams lacks the proper internal motivation to become an elite NFL quarterback.

"I do wonder [if] there's a sense on entitlement," McElroy said. "Is there that chip on his shoulder that's going to keep him going 10, 12 years down the road the way it does [Patrick] Mahomes, who's still pissed that he got drafted 10th."

Williams posted the clip to social media and responded with a list of what he's had to overcome thus far in his football career.

The quarterback referenced not earning the starting quarterback role until late into his freshman season at Oklahoma. He also cited the hamstring injury he suffered during USC's 2023 Pac-12 Championship loss to Utah, as well as the mediocre 7-5 season the Trojans had in 2024.

Some prominent people who know Williams personally have gone out of their way over the past several months to state the opposite of McElroy's assessment, including Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who traveled to South Bend to watch Williams' worst game as Trojan in a three-interception flop against Notre Dame.

"There have been quarterbacks in the past where they are undefeated for three years, they have a bunch of first round picks surrounding them at all times, so it's a projection of how they handle discomfort, how they handle pressure," Poles told NBC Sports Chicago insider Josh Schrock in a one-on-one interview in March. "So seeing some of these guys go through hard times is important because now you can actually talk about it and listen to them kind of go back and, 'OK, what can I kind of do to get better? How could I handle certain situations better?' There are so many learning lessons from that. It just makes you feel comfortable where, if you're in a situation like that, the kid is going to come out on the other side because if not they can crumble easily."

Williams' high school coach, Randy Trivers is another person who would disagree with the notion that Williams' lacks an internal dialog.

Remember, Williams played in what is considered the greatest high school game of all time. Gonzaga scored three touchdowns in 30 seconds to defeat DeMatha under Williams' leadership at quarterback. But there was plenty of adversity along the way.

"The go-ahead score that we had when we scored with 30 seconds left, on that drive it was a third and 33," Trivers said in an interview with 670 The Score. "The play before that, he was sacked. I think he actually had a minor ankle fracture. He got up limping. Had we had to play another week, I don't know if he would've played.

"He gets up limping and it's third and 33," He throws a strike down the sideline for 37 yards. The next play, we score what is apparently a touchdown, but the official said it's out of bounds. So it's all these things that could get into a guy's head... But he really believes. He keeps his composure. The next play, the same play but he doesn't go to that particular receiver, he goes to another one on an inside slant ball. We catch it and we go up for the first time in the game."

Adversity is relative. Not everyone's journey is a Cinderella story. What matters is whether or not Williams shows signs of a leader who can push through tough scenarios. For what it's worth, Ryan Poles sure thinks he has.

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