Caleb Williams is nothing if not ambitious.
And whenever he passes through Heisman Park just east of Owen Field, it's a poignant reminder of the things that he wants to accomplish in a Sooner uniform.
“I’ve been there a few times - I drove by it right before I came back to the hotel," Williams told SI Sooners. "I do want to be up there. I know they haven’t had two Heisman [wins] from one person, so hopefully I can do that.”
Of course, the only two-time Heisman winner in college football history is Archie Griffin, who claimed back-to-back trophies in 1974 and 1975. No player has come legitimately close to joining the Ohio State legend in the exclusive company, though several players have been Heisman finalists in consecutive years, including former Oklahoma quarterbacks Jason White and Baker Mayfield.
Winning a Heisman Trophy is no easy task. Tua Tagovailoa, Christian McCaffrey, Vince Young, Darren Sproles and scores of other college football legends never did it. But Williams isn't setting his goal any lower than the pinnacle of individual accomplishment at the FBS level.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Heisman [winner]," said Williams. "I like being the best. I’ve always wanted to be the best in my class. I’ve always wanted to be the best quarterback.”
However, Williams has more immediate priorities in the short term. He'll contend with Spencer Rattler for the starting job at Oklahoma in 2021, and potentially in 2022 as well. Both players are former Elite11 MVPs and five-star recruits. It's hard to recall a circumstance in which one program boasted two quarterbacks with such impressive prep resumes, but such is life at an offensive juggernaut the likes of Oklahoma.
“First I gotta get the starting spot, and work for it, and earn the respect of the guys and the coaches, and learn the playbook," said Williams.
But once he's gained the right to take the snaps for the Sooners, that's when Williams' visions of Heisman glory truly become a possibility. After all, Lincoln Riley's system has produced three consecutive Heisman finalists, and two winners in Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Today, there's perhaps no more coveted estate in college football than the quarterback position at the University of Oklahoma. And Williams is fully aware that under Riley's tutelage, there's no limit to how high he and the Sooner offense can fly.
“He’s a student of the game," Williams said of his future head coach. "He’s had three different types of quarterbacks, from Jalen Hurts to Baker to Kyler. They all had different game plans for each of those three quarterbacks.”
Despite rolling out three different starting quarterbacks over the course of three seasons, Riley and the Sooners have produced three of the most prolific offenses in college football history over that time period. Williams, the Sooners' third-highest rated recruit ever, arguably has more natural talent than any of his predecessors.
That alone should cause Sooner Nation to salivate over the possibilities, but it's Williams' relentless work ethic that truly sets him apart. His passion for football often borders on obsession; his father Carl told SI Sooners, "I have to make [Caleb] go to sleep at night. Otherwise... he'll sit there and study film."
It's no secret that Lincoln Riley talks up his program's quarterback battle in the preseason. But it was never really a question that Baker Mayfield would start over Kyler Murray in 2017, or that Murray would start over Austin Kendall in 2018, or that Jalen Hurts would start over Tanner Mordecai in 2019. Likewise, it's very obvious that Spencer Rattler will start over Mordecai in 2020. However, come the 2021 season, Oklahoma may have a legitimate battle at the position for the first time since Riley took the reins.
Williams has stated that he wants to win at least one Heisman Trophy, claim at least one national championship, and become the first overall pick in the NFL draft. He devotes himself to those ambitions daily, and it surely won't be long before he's seeing his dreams come to fruition in a Sooner uniform.
“Accolades don’t really tell who you are," Williams acknowledged. "But I do want certain accolades because… people actually recognize all the work that you’ve put in.”
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