Gonzaga QB Caleb Williams commits to Oklahoma over Maryland

Tyler Byrum
·4 min read

Consensus five-star quarterback and Gonzaga College High School rising senior Caleb Williams has verbally commited to play college football at the University of Oklahoma. 

The nation's top quarterback of the 2021 class, according to 247 Sports, announced his decision on CBS Sports HQ on Saturday night at 9 p.m. just as fireworks went off across the country.

Williams chose Oklahoma over his hometown Maryland Terrapins and the LSU Tigers

"Yes. With their past, with their past two quarterbacks [at Oklahoma], I honestly felt like it was for me," Williams told CBS Sports HQ. "I honestly felt like it was the best place for me overall with what Coach [Lincoln] Riley has been able to do. I just want to learn and hopefully get to the next level."

Paul Troth, a former quarterback at East Carolina and Liberty, has worked with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, the Redskins' presumptive starter, and Philadelphia's Carson Wentz and Houston's Deshaun Watson as part of the prestigious Elite 11 camp's Mid-Atlantic coaching staff.

Williams, at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, has traits in common with all of them.   

"[Williams'] mechanics are the best I've seen in a long time – maybe going back to Dwayne Haskins coming out of high school," Troth said. 

The Sooners, of course, boast an outstanding pedigree at the position. Two of the past three Heisman Trophy winners hail from Oklahoma (Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray in 2018). Last year, OU quarterback Jalen Hurts finished second in voting for the award behind LSU's Joe Burrow.

All three of those QBs under Riley went on to be drafted in the NFL. Williams' skillset is similar to all three of those NFL quarterbacks. He is a mobile, dual-threat passer.

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Now heading to Oklahoma, the right-handed passer will likely have to sit a year behind 2019 backups Spencer Rattler and Tanner Mordecai. Rattler is a fellow five-star prospect who is classified as a redshirt freshman after taking just a few snaps in 2019. He likely has NFL aspirations and will be entering his junior - and potentially final - year with the Sooners when Williams would be a redshirt freshman. Mordecai, entering his redshirt sophomore season, would be a senior for the Gonzaga QB's freshman year.

That's if Riley decided to redshirt Williams, of course. 

"I can see him starting Day 1, but I can also see him sitting in a situation at Oklahoma," Troth said. "Because Spencer Rattler when he came in he's done well. I think off the field will determine that quarterback room. Spencer Rattler, he falls along the lines of he's a very confident individual, right?  More like Baker Mayfield. So it all depends on how you can rally the troops around you. At the end of the day, that's a great situation. Lincoln Riley will maximize it."

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Maryland fans held out hope that Williams would choose to play in nearby College Park. However, earlier this offseason they received the services of Alabama QB transfer Taulia Tagovailoa, the brother of former Alabama and current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. His first season of eligibility in 2021 would also be Williams' freshman season.

Locksley has created quite the reputation of 'swiping' recruits after the stunner he pulled by getting WR Rakim Jarrett to flip from LSU to the Terps. Still, experts and 247Sports' Crystal Ball expected Williams to head to Norman and he did.

Maryland has had a nice spring on the recruiting trail. The Terps currently have 16 commits and 247Sports ranks them No. 16 overall in its recruiting rankings. That's a solid leap so far after Locksley's first full recruiting class was ranked No. 31. He was hired Dec. 4, 2018. 

Locksley has secured verbal commitments from across the defensive line from four-star recruits Demeioun Robinson (Quince Orchard), Marcus Bradley (Quince Orchard) and Taizse Johnson (St. John's). But Williams would have brought some desperately-needed star power to the quarterback spot, where injuries and inconsistency have plagued Maryland for years. It was a disappointing, if expected, result. 

Overall, Williams is ranked the fourth-best prospect in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports. ESPN has the passer at No. 15 and he is the No. 2 QB in its top 300 list.

"Caleb is a great kid. He's an engaging personality," Troth said. "That's the other part of what you're getting. You're getting the whole package as a quarterback. He's a guy that can be the face of your franchise. And I think he understands that. It'll be interesting. Nobody I've ever seen is a sure thing, but he's close to it." 
 

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Gonzaga QB Caleb Williams commits to Oklahoma over Maryland originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington