Caleb Williams: The nation’s No. 1 junior QB, his Sour Patch Kids and his thoughts on UGA
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. The play for today is an intro to a potential anchor commitment for the 2021 class. That would be the 5-star dual-threat QB, Caleb Williams.
The narrative details for 5-star QB Caleb Williams can start out as a route tree. It makes sense.
Oh, the places we can go.
Might it be his status as the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB (247Sports Composite ratings) for 2021? Or what of the 100 percent of the “Crystal Ball” picks which have him choosing UGA? Perhaps the locker room scene atop his Twitter page? What about the notion he’s still not expecting to make a commitment any time soon? He has other schools he still really likes, too.
Those elements seem like the expected recruiting blotter. They are easy Googles on Williams. When DawgNation further learned he’s taken “five or six” visits to Athens as a recruit, it was a tasty option to consider exploring.
With that, we’ll commence by reaching for a box of “Sour Patch Kids” candy instead.
Those are his favorite. They are also a popular game night ritual.
“I eat sour candy,” he said. “My coach and I – ever since my freshman year – we get Sour Patch Kids candy before every game,” Williams said.
This is the part where sports nutritionists and trainers will cover their eyes.
The 6-foot-2, 209-pound junior had a box in his hands before he made magic happen last season in the Washington D.C. Metro Western Catholic Athletic Conference Capital Division Championship.
“I even eat them every halftime inside the locker room or inside the locker room before we go out,” Williams said. “Yeah, I had them at halftime.”
He did. Before and during a game in which he was responsible for seven touchdowns.
Oh, the places we will go.
The Caleb Williams moments to make sure to see
Joe Montana was glorified as having “ice water” in his veins. Who can forget the story of him spotting John Candy in the final moments of a Super Bowl? It became a signature highlight of a Hall of Fame career.
Ice water veins? Williams has “Sour Patch Kids” (or just a good jolt of sugar) in his.
There’s no comparison between that stage and the one Mr. Williams operates on. But he has already showcased his “clutch gene” in the wildest comeback situation imaginable.
Do yourself a favor. Watch the clips below. They are derived from the game in which the 5-star threw for approximately 200 yards and scored three of his six touchdowns in the final 3:03. That closing flurry features 20 combined points in the final 107 seconds.
Those late big throws from Williams somehow render the other 200 yards and three touchdowns he tallied up as mere footnotes.
“I want to keep going to championships and winning,” he said. “That’s my thing. I like winning.”
DeMatha led Gonzaga 36-33 with 1:47 left to play. There were three touchdowns scored in the final 30 seconds. Disney would reject this script. This seems like too much late magic for even them to film.
Williams made it happen regardless in a 46-43 victory for his team.
“It was crazy,” Williams said. “I guess I was zoned in that day. Pretty fun.”
Just watch. Enjoy. It will be a task to believe it all on the first watch anyway.
What did he say in the huddle before his last big throw?
“It really wasn’t what I said basically,” Williams told DawgNation. “It was kind of more of my demeanor. My poise. I wasn’t moping.”
For a more cinematic view of things, including the last pass that flies more than 60 yards in the air when it had to get there, check out this clip.
As if the ending wasn’t thrilling enough, his team was also down 20 points to DeMatha at one point.
“We were down 20 and I had my arms over the bench on the backside of the bench,” he said. “Left-arm on the left side. Right arm on the right side. I was leaning down. My feet were crossed.”
Joe Cool? Nope. Caleb Sour Patch Chill? Maybe.
“I’m a very very very chill person on the sidelines,” he said. “My teammates don’t like it. My linemen hate it how chill I am on the sideline. They know I’m there and ready to go but my linemen are a lot more amped up than me. Even on the bus ride. We’re pulling up to the field and they are going crazy in the back.”
They’re going crazy. He’s likely listening to old school Drake. With sour candy on his mind.
The things Caleb Williams can do
When he was a 5-foot-9, 170-pound freshman QB at Gonzaga, he battled his way through camp to earn the starting job.
He was so advanced in his preparation he was already trusted to align and slide the protections based on the numbers in the box by then, too. Just a freshman. Back in 2017.
Williams goes to the huddle now with a handful of plays to check-in to.
“I learned our offense pretty fast,” he said. “I was always hanging around our head coach, our offensive coordinator and our QB coach. They were teaching me the offense firsthand. They were able to see how fast I learned it, how I studied it and wanted to get better and they gave me the keys to the Mercedes.”
When that DeMatha kickoff return went for a score, he had the right response.
“I hopped up as I saw him go right down the middle,” Williams said. “I grabbed the headset or just took it off one of my coach’s heads and told my offensive coordinator to get me in range. They got me in range with a 15 or 20-yard out and then the ‘Haily Mary’ right after it. It was pretty cool.”
That heave was right around his peak throw. It flew well over 60 yards. He can fling it 72 yards. Max. But maybe just not that far and drop it in the bucket like he did to beat DeMatha.
How good has his career been so far? When asked if the Dematha miracle was his best game so far, he paused for a few seconds. Then he agreed. It “probably” was.
His best ball that night? It wasn’t that last fling.
He just dropped back and chucked it as far as he could.
“I’d say it was the third-and-33 after I went down for a sack when I knew I couldn’t go down for a sack on second down,” he said. “I threw a corner ball, a corner route, to Sam Sweeney, and I knew their safeties were really fast and able to make plays from sideline to sideline. … I hit the corner route but I knew I couldn’t throw it too close to the sideline because Sam would run out of bounds. So I put it over the opposite shoulder and it was a pretty sweet catch by Sam.”
He finished his junior year off by winning the Gatorade Player of the Year Award for the D.C. region. That came after 2,624 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. He led his Eagles (9-3) to their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship since 2002. He also piled up 394 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
Williams accounted for seven touchdowns in that thrilling 46-43 win against DeMatha.He was the winning-est winner of all that night.
The Caleb Williams toolbox
This seems like a good time to note he clocked a laser 4.57 in the 40 during his Opening regional testing. He also ran the pro agility shuttle in 4.12 seconds.
— Caleb Williams (@CALEBcsw) May 6, 2019
As a means of comparison, Georgia CB commitment Jalen Kimber was the fastest man (4.43 seconds) at the Opening Finals in Texas this year. He ran his pro shuttle in 4.02 seconds at 165 pounds.
With that, Williams knows how to use his tools. He will not even run the ball in Madden football. His goal is to pass for 500 yards. Even in video games.
“I don’t run until I have to,” he said. “My legs are there to get me out of trouble to escape so I can look to still make a play downfield.”
Williams notes an oddity. He only had 398 rushing yards last year. Yet he’s a dual-threat because of that athleticism and the way he can really spin it on the move.
There are other quarterbacks he knows that carry the ball far more than he does. Those guys are rated as the Pro-Style passers.
“I don’t care,” he said. “It doesn’t really bother me.”
He knows his arm will always get the ball down the field faster than his legs do. He chalks up his arm strength to “God-given” talent and a belief in good mechanics which allow him to build up arm strength.
“Stronger legs,” he said. “Stronger hips. All that. Just keep building on God-given talent. With work. Just more motion in the ocean with that.”
Go ahead and label him a film rat. He’s also maybe a little too honest for his future strength coaches.
“I’d much rather watch film and study concepts and figure out how to beat every blitz than go out and lift weights,” he said. “I’m pretty fascinated by routes and route concepts against coverages and setting up the right protections and all kinds of stuff like that.”
What kind of shot does Georgia have with Caleb Williams?
The Bulldogs have honed in on Williams as their top QB for 2021. It makes sense, too.
Aside from his ratings, the 2021 QB pool is drying up. Charles Power of 247Sports put together a strong report that details how 11 of the nation’s top 21 QB prospects for 2021 are already committed.
Mekhail Sherman, one of the brassy recruiters for the Bulldogs in the 2020 class, has played against Williams. They both compete in the W.C.A.C as rivals.
“Caleb Williams is a great QB that makes average receivers look like threats to a defense,” Sherman told DawgNation this week. “He could help UGA greatly.”
Sherman knows elite QB talent Carson Beck is already committed his class. But he knows that the Bulldogs try to sign the best they can every cycle at each position.
That’s how the program ensures everyone gets better. It is by competing hard every day on the practice field.
Williams felt it was nice to know he’s one of the guys Sherman plays that he will give a little credit to.
“We talk,” Williams said. “He wants me to go to Georgia but he also wants me to make the right decision for me and my family. But the one thing he has said is he wants me to come and be a ‘Dawg.”
Offensive coordinator James Coley and Kirby Smart have said that to him, too.
“I feel great about them,” Williams said. “They are trying to make me a real priority for my class. So it is a pretty good feeling and a pretty good thing to know.”
Coley and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning and Smart are his main recruiters.
“They really like me,” he said. “They really want me to come and just be a ‘Dawg. That’s what they want me to be.”
He was impressed by what he saw at G-Day.
“It was a mixture of it all really,” he said. “The fans. Who were all there for a spring game. How many were there in the weather? I think coach said there were still 55,000 fans there for a spring game when it was raining. I was talking about how hype the guys were on the field. I noticed the culture with Georgia. It was a mixture of a bunch of different things for me at that time.”
When asked, he couldn’t immediately come up with an answer about the biggest thing he likes about UGA. His first UGA visit came back when he was in the eighth grade.
Williams eventually settled on two things.
“I like the coaches,” he said. “They seem really genuine and really up-front. I also hung around the players a little bit. The players are really cool. Something that I am looking is the players that are really cool and they are together. That was one of the things I was looking for in a high school at Gonzaga. That’s also one of the big things I am looking for in a college, too.”
He said he still feels the same way about the Bulldogs after his June visit. The feeling hasn’t changed.
“Yeah they are the same,” he said. “Still love them.”
Potential decision timeline for Caleb Williams
Williams will not able to enroll early. The W.C.A.C. doesn’t allow mid-year graduation among its members. Sherman will face that same issue in 2020, too.
“I’m feeling a commit after the season,” Williams said. “Because here we always commit before senior year normally. That’s what our coach likes us to do. Play the senior season knowing where you are going. So I think I’m just about done. Pretty sure.”
For clarification, that “just about done” part meant visits to new schools.
“I’ll probably go back to a few schools that I have already visited,” he said.
Williams said this week he knows a few schools who will make up his final group. He hasn’t established a full list yet, though. But he knows it will be one of the schools he has already seen. There’s no need to expand his reach to new ones.
“Just need to be sure about the ones I really like,” Williams said. “Go back and check them out.”
Williams said he hasn’t started to have those sorting discussions yet with his father or the staff at Gonzaga. He just finished a summer swing which included stops at Georgia, LSU, Oregon and Stanford. Williams also checked out Ohio State, but that was before No. 5 pro-style QB Kyle McCord committed to play there.
Depth charts will not bother him. At all.
“I don’t care who’s there,” Williams said. “I feel that I am the best in the country. That’s how I feel. But I feel I will show it by how I learn the offense, how I play and how I work to get better when I am there. Show command of the huddle. Be a leader.”
His game clips needed to rise to the top of this narrative. That is where his true talent comes out.
“I feel I’m a way better player in games than camps,” he said. “The adrenaline starts flowing. You’re competing. Playing for something. Playing for your guys. Shorts and shoulder pads are not the same. Nobody is calling plays in. You don’t have to look around. Everything is how it needs to be perfect.”
“You don’t have to worry about getting drilled. You don’t have to figure out how the routes and plays will work with that formation or against that defense. It is a lot different.”
Williams was impressed by his recent visits to Oregon and Stanford.
“Really liked the school itself and the facilities from both of those two,” he said. “Those really stood out. I didn’t get to meet any of the players. They weren’t there, but I really liked the coaches on both programs. They were saying good things and it all felt real and genuine. That is always a good thing.”
He said he has no plans for any game visits at this time.
“Just working and thinking right now about another championship,” Williams said.
There are points to be scored. Games to be won. And magical things to do with that ball.