Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams just completed his true freshman season in Norman this past Wednesday night, leading the Sooners to a 47-32 win over Oregon as seven-point favorites at the Alamo Bowl.
On Monday, Williams announced that he’s entering the transfer portal, although he kept the option of returning to OU on the table.
Williams completed 21-of-27 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against the Ducks. He also ran for 34 yards on seven attempts.
For the season, Williams connected on 62.7 percent of his passes for 1,674 yards with an 18/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He had 408 rushing yards, six TDs and a 5.7 yards-per-carry average.
Williams replaced preseason Heisman Trophy favorite Spencer Rattler in Week 6 vs. Texas when Oklahoma was trailing 28-7 early in the second quarter. The five-star recruit immediately made his presence felt, producing a 66-yard TD run.
With OU trailing the Longhorns 41-23 late in the third quarter, Williams hit Marvin Mims for a 14-yard TD pass. With 7:25 remaining in the final stanza, Williams connected with Mims again for a 52-yard scoring strike to pull even with Texas at 41-41.
With the game tied at 48-48, Oklahoma RB Kennedy Brooks ripped off a 33-yard TD run with just three seconds remaining. The score allowed the Sooners to win a 55-48 decision and cover the spread as four-point favorites.
Needless to say, Williams’s performance catapulted him into the starting QB role for the rest of the season. Rattler was relegated to backup duty, and he transferred to South Carolina last month.
The Oklahoma team was left stunned and hurt when fifth-year head coach Lincoln Riley decided to leave and take the USC job less than 24 hours after the Sooners lost 37-33 at Oklahoma St. in the regular-season finale.
Bob Stoops, who stepped aside to allow Riley to be elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach back in January of 2017, was named the interim head coach for the Alamo Bowl.
OU then brought Stoops’s old defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, back to Norman as the team’s new head coach on Dec. 5. The 51-year-old Venables had spent the last 10 seasons as Clemson’s defensive coordinator, passing up other head-coaching opportunties in the past decade. Before leaving to join Dabo Swinney’s staff at Clemson, Venables was at OU under Stoops from 1999-2011.
Even with Williams mentioning that staying with the Sooners is still an option, Venables and his staff acted quickly after the Williams’ news broke, securing a commitment from Dillon Gabriel.
Gabriel is the former UCF QB who sustained a season-ending shoulder injury on the final play of the Knights’ 42-35 loss at Louisville in Week 3. Since entering the portal, Gabriel had committed to UCLA, but he quickly changed his mind within a few hours of Williams’s announcement.
Gabriel started 25 games for UCF from 2019-2021, producing a 17-8 record. As a true freshman in 2019, he completed 59.3 percent of his throws for 3,653 yards with a 29/7 TD-INT ratio.
In 2020, Gabriel connected on 60.0 percent of his passes for 3,570 yards with a stellar 32/4 TD-INT ratio. The southpaw had completed 68.6 percent of his attempts for 818 yards with a 9/3 TD-INT ratio before getting injured against the Cardinals.
For his career, Gabriel has 8,041 passing yards with a remarkable 70/14 TD-INT ratio. He’s also a threat with his legs, producing 372 career rushing yards and eight TDs. Gabriel also had a 20-yard TD reception in 2021.
For Gabriel to bolt on the Bruins for Oklahoma so quickly after Williams’s announcement, it’s obvious that Venables and his staff aren’t counting on Williams to come back.
Nevertheless, Oklahoma released a statement Monday credited to both AD Joe Castiglione and Venables:
Immediate speculation about Williams’s future obviously centered on him reuniting with Riley at USC. If there’s a favorite to land his services, it’s undoubtedly the Trojans.