When Texas prep Garrett Nussmeier gave a verbal commitment to play for LSU on Monday, it seemed a strong indicator that 5-star 2021 quarterback Caleb Williams was headed to Oklahoma.
Not so fast.
Williams listed OU, LSU and Maryland in his final three on Monday. Nussmeier’s commitment later in the day only pointed to what many think is inevitable: Williams will be a Sooner.
That may yet happen. It’s widely assumed that Williams will soon pledge to Oklahoma. His last campus visit before the Coronavirus shutdown was to Norman. He’s forged such a meaningful relationship with OU coach Lincoln Riley that his Twitter avatar is a photo of Riley with his mother.
“He probably goes deeper with Lincoln Riley than he does with any other head coach,” Sports Illustrated director of football recruiting John Garcia told SI Sooners on Thursday.
But it may be too soon to connect Nussmeier’s commitment to LSU with any decision Williams ultimately makes. Ed Orgeron and his staff aren’t backing off Williams just because Nussmeier has given a non-binding verbal commitment.
“LSU hasn’t figured out their quarterback thing yet,” Garcia said. “They’re still coming hard after him.”
The reason, Garcia said: the transfer portal. It has changed the way a lot coaching staffs approach recruiting, particularly at quarterback.
“A lot of schools are talking about taking two,” Garcia said. “ … The roster-building has changed because of the portal. So a lot of schools are trying to take two if they can.”
LSU actually signed two pro style quarterbacks in the 2020 class in Max Johnson and T.J. Finley, a year after signing dual-threat QB Peter Parrish in 2019. Junior Myles Brennan is projected to start this year, but that's hardly been decided.
It's starting to make more sense for high-level programs to sign two QBs. The way the trend has gone lately, whichever one climbs the depth chart faster will stay, and the one who gets left behind will transfer. Coaches are hedging their bets.
Williams is confident he can start wherever he goes. That may be LSU, where there is currently no established starter and a wide-open competition. Or it may be Oklahoma, where Tanner Mordecai and 2019 5-star Spencer Rattler will apparently battle it out this fall.
“I think LSU is still the biggest threat to OU (for Williams),” Garcia said.
Still, Garcia thinks Williams will more than likely be a Sooner.
“They’re absolutely the leader in the clubhouse for Caleb Williams,” Garcia said. “Although it’s not over at this point, certainly perceptually, Oklahoma should feel comfortable with where they’re at right there.”
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