Why did Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams put his name in the transfer portal?

Just when it seemed that news surrounding coaches and players finding new homes was cooling down, the college football landscape was stirred up again in a big way Monday.

Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams announced on Twitter that he was putting his name in the transfer portal following an impressive freshman season that saw him replace Spencer Rattler as the team’s starter mid-year.

“Words can’t describe the amount of love I have for my teammates, coaches and the Sooner Nation . . . As you all know, the sudden changes this seasons sent shockwaves through Sooner Nation and were really hard for our whole team,” Williams said in his statement. “I came to Oklahoma with a gameplan, but with all the recent changes, I need to figure out what the right plan is for me moving forward.”

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Among those sudden changes were the departures of head coach Lincoln Riley to USC and several prized recruits who had committed to, or were interested in, Oklahoma. Riley was a believer in Williams, as well.

Rattler has since transferred to South Carolina, while former No. 1 receiver commit Jadon Haselwood committed to Arkansas.

Williams saw his first meaningful action last October in the Red River Rivalry game with Texas. He came in for Rattler, whom Riley had benched. Williams went 16 of 25 for 212 yards and two touchdowns passing while adding 88 yards and a touchdown rushing. Oklahoma came back from down 28-7 to win 55-48.

Sporting News takes a look at why the freshman phenom could be leaving Norman.

Why did Caleb Williams enter the portal?

Williams and his father, Carl, provided insight into why the quarterback put his name in the portal. Neither one explicitly outlined any problems Williams had with Oklahoma, nor did they criticize incoming coach Brent Venables, the former OU and Clemson defensive coordinator.

Both were clear, though, that the decision has everything to do with the younger Williams’ future.

“(T)he only way I can speak with other schools and see who may offer the best preparation and development for my future career is by entering the portal,” Caleb Williams said.

He already has sights set on the NFL, according to his father, who told Yahoo’s Pete Thamel that factored into the decision.

Of note, Williams said that a return to Norman is on the table. He will “take a few days off to decompress” following Oklahoma’s 47-32 win over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

Venables and Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione put out a statement Monday laying out why they believe the Sooners provide the best fit for Williams.

Where is Caleb Williams from?

Williams is from the football-rich DMV area (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) and played his high school football in Washington, D.C., where he was a standout at Gonzaga College High School. He showed off his dual-threat prowess, throwing for 1,770 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and rushing for 838 yards and 18 scores. He helped lead Gonzaga to its first state championship since 2002.

Williams was ranked as the No. 2 quarterback and No. 7 player nationally by 247Sports in the Class of 2021. He chose Oklahoma over LSU, Maryland, Clemson and others. He was also the No. 1-ranked player in D.C. and came to Oklahoma ranked higher than Rattler nationally.

Caleb Williams stats

The highly touted Williams entered a crowded quarterback room led by a former Heisman front-runner in Rattler. Rattler started, but often underwhelmed, before ceding his spot to Williams in the Red River Rivalry after committing two turnovers.

Williams excelled after that as a pure passer and a dual-threat QB. He threw six touchdown passes with no interceptions against Texas Tech and completed over 70 percent of his passes four times.

Overall, Williams completed 137 of 212 passes (64.6 percent) for 1,916 yards and 21 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He added 442 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in 11 games.

Rattler played in nine games and went 140-for-187 passing (74.9 percent) for 1,483 yards and 11 touchdowns to five interceptions, plus 77 yards and three scores as a rusher. 

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