The Next Patrick Mahomes?

USC quarterback Caleb Williams earned the Heisman trophy this past season, breaking college football records, with some calling him the next Patrick Mahomes.

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This past season in college football was an absolute rollercoaster ride for fans across the United States. As the season came to a close, four finalists were selected for a chance to receive the illustrious Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best player in college football at the end of the regular season. The finalists included Ohio State quarterback C. J. Stroud, TCU quarterback Max Duggan, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, and USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Among these stellar quarterbacks, one shined more than the others, and he was none other than Williams, the sophomore quarterback for the USC Trojans.

Last October, Williams was a backup quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, playing second-string to the consensus preseason number-one quarterback in college football, Spencer Rattler. Looking for a chance to showcase his skills, Williams came in for a struggling Rattler in the Red River rivalry game against Texas to give the Sooners a spark on offense. The freshman hero then went 16 for 25, gaining 212 yards and scoring two touchdowns to take down Oklahoma’s longtime rivals, the Texas Longhorns, in a 55-48 win for the Sooners. Little did he know that this game would put him over Rattler in the depth chart, shoving him into the national spotlight as the new starting quarterback for one of the nation’s top teams.

Soon after the 2021 season was over, Williams entered the transfer portal, a decision many expected, as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, Lincoln Riley, had gone to USC to help bring a national title to the Trojans. Unsurprisingly, Williams followed Riley to Los Angeles, a choice influenced by the fact that Riley was the first to give Williams a true shot at glory in the Red River rivalry game and throughout the remainder of the 2021 season. The two looked to bring back a strong winning culture at USC. “We’re going to put out a football team that hopefully you’re proud of on the field, but you’re proud of what they do in the classroom, you’re proud of what they do in the community and that we represent you well and then we work incredibly well together,” Riley said. Now entering his sophomore season as USC’s new starting quarterback under a coach whose system he’s accustomed to, Williams has shined. In a year where he threw for over 4,000 yards, slung the ball for 37 touchdowns, and was intercepted a mere four times, Williams flew to the top of the list of Heisman finalists. He eventually took home the coveted Heisman Trophy in December, breaking the college football record for most Heismans won by a single school.

Whether it be because of his incredibly talented arm, off-balance throws, or extravagant playmaking ability, Williams has gotten quite the NFL comparison, with some saying he resembles a younger Patrick Mahomes. “I don’t think there’s anything that I can’t do that he’s doing out there. I think it’s really cool [...] I’ve had comparisons to a bunch of other people, and since I have, [Mahomes] is pretty cool,” Williams said in an interview with CBS Sports Radio. What may come off as a bit self-centered from Williams can be overlooked, as his play does most of the talking for him. When Williams surveys the field, scrambles out of the pocket, and fires the ball downfield with pristine accuracy, it’s hard for fans not to see the obvious resemblance to the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and current runner-up for NFL MVP, Mahomes.

Ultimately, to beat some of the best quarterbacks in the nation for the Heisman, Williams not only had to resemble Mahomes’s play style, but he also had to showcase electric play in clutch situations. In a classic rivalry game against UCLA, the Trojans were down 20-21 at halftime, losing to a worse football team. Williams rushed for a touchdown in the first quarter and failed to sling the football to his receivers. Coming out of the locker room, the future Heisman had one goal in mind: lock-in and dominate. After a phenomenal second half of the game, Williams led the Trojans to a 48-45 win, with over 500 total yards and three touchdowns. With this win, USC entered the top five schools in the nation, one spot away from college football playoffs. “They had a lot to say all week. We blocked it out. They had a lot to say today. We blocked it out. We did our job. We fought. We kept fighting,” Williams said. This resilience from USC and their talisman quarterback was a common theme throughout the season and ultimately elevated Williams into the national spotlight once again as he prevailed over fellow Heisman finalists.