“I’ve been in the house for a while,” he explained.
Williams, who will be a senior this fall, is one of the most sought-after signal callers in the country. The dual-threat quarterback fielded offers from nearly all of the national powerhouses — including Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State — before determining his final five. Last month, recruiting site 247 Sports tabbed Williams as the nation’s top quarterback and sixth-best recruit overall.
It’s unclear which school is the favorite to land Williams. The quarterback said he isn’t leaning toward any of the five universities, but he wants to commit as soon as possible so he can start recruiting players to join him. He plans to decide before his senior season begins at Gonzaga and doesn’t want to be rushed. The methodical process, his father, Carl, has said, is geared to avoid entering the transfer portal at any point during Williams’s college career.
When asked what traits he was looking for in his ultimate choice, he demurred.
“If I had an idea, I’d be committed,” Williams said. “I’m not a big fan of the recruiting process ... but it’s still a little too early. I don’t know yet.”
Williams spoke glowingly of Oklahoma coach/offensive wizard Lincoln Riley, and it’s easy to see how Williams would fit into the Sooners’ high-powered offense. Riley has taken dual-threat quarterbacks such as Williams and turned them into the past two No. 1 NFL draft picks: Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Williams called that “pretty, pretty, pretty insane.”
The LSU Tigers are reigning national champions, but they lost wunderkind offensive coordinator Joe Brady — who had a good relationship with Williams — to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Williams admitted Brady’s departure was “a piece to the puzzle" but clarified it “wasn’t a dealbreaker." Williams praised the motivational tactics of Coach Ed Orgeron and hopes to visit Baton Rouge one more time before making his final decision.
“I’ve been there a few times, and for a game day ... and I love their fans,” Williams said. “If you’ve ever been there, you know what I mean.”
Penn State, Clemson and Maryland should remain competitive. Williams has a good relationship with Nittany Lions Coach James Franklin, who offered him a scholarship when he was a freshman, and he likes the team’s proximity to home. He is attracted to Clemson’s consistency and culture under Coach Dabo Swinney. And he spoke highly of Maryland’s coaching staff, which he knows well, and its position as his hometown team.
Williams has reiterated throughout his school search that he will not be hurried by other quarterbacks making their decisions, even though recruiting can become a game of musical chairs. He and his father believe in their process. It started with a spreadsheet grading schools in four categories — academics, athletics, preparation and intangibles — and has always served the same goal: develop Caleb into the best quarterback possible. That once meant Caleb working out with a sandbag on his back as a fifth-grader, and one day they hope it means he’ll be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.
For Williams, a 2019 All-Met first-team selection, this announcement was the byproduct of a busy recruiting process and years of hard work. Carl showed his son how to dedicate himself to the game. He has spent countless late nights at Athletic Republic, a sports performance complex in District Heights, Md., and trained with at least one private quarterback coach since he was about 9 years old. Two years ago, standing next to a specialized speed treadmill, Williams acknowledged to The Washington Post what it took to be considered one of the best in the country.
“No summers off,” he said. “This is what I do.”
Perhaps more than his association with national powerhouses, Williams is famous locally for a play he made as a sophomore. He won the 2018 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship with a Hail Mary heave that flew more than 60 yards in the air to give the Eagles a 46-43 victory over DeMatha.
Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, he doesn’t go out to football fields or the gym. Williams is stuck inside and rides his stationary bike. Sometimes he visits his grandparents, who have a pool no one else uses and a couple of weightlifting machines. That’s where the nation’s best quarterback is preparing for his senior season and the biggest choice of his young life.
“I have to figure it out,” he said. “It’ll be okay.”