Caleb Williams and C.J. Stroud among Heisman Trophy finalists

When Caleb Williams joined USC in February, the quarterback was billed as a star in the making, the kind of transformational talent that could one day become college football’s greatest player.

Less than a year later, this distinction already seems inevitable for the Trojan passerby. Williams was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy on Monday, joining fellow quarterbacks Max Duggan of Texas Christian, CJ Stroud of Ohio State and Stetson Bennett of Georgia, who will all be in New York for Saturday’s awards ceremony.

None has parted from the pack quite as much in the last month as Williams, who remains the overwhelming favorite for the award among oddsmakers. The second quarterback brought USC to the brink of the college football playoffs, defeating rivals Notre Dame and UCLA with stellar performances in the final weeks of the season, both in front of national audiences.

A hamstring injury handicapped him in a devastating loss in the Pac-12 championship game against Utah, ending USC’s charming run and threatening his availability for next month’s Cotton Bowl. But Williams’ stranglehold this college football season was already established by this point.

After his move from Oklahoma became the talk of the offseason, Williams stepped into the spotlight at USC and became an even bigger star. He threw for 4,075 yards, the fourth-most of any quarterback, and 37 touchdowns that tied for the national lead, all in just four interceptions. If he’s healthy enough to play the bowl game, he should have no problem breaking school records in either category.

But it was his legs that really made Williams stand out. His stunning escapes from the pocket made him one of the most electrifying playmakers in college football as he hit 10 rushing touchdowns with 372 yards on the ground, both the highest totals ever by a Trojans quarterback.

Williams would be the eighth Trojan to win the award, the most by any school, although the Heisman Trust would still only recognize seven because Reggie Bush had his Heisman Trophy stripped after NCAA running back-related violations.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/usc/story/2022-12-05/usc-quarterback-caleb-williams-heisman-trophy-finalist Caleb Williams and C.J. Stroud among Heisman Trophy finalists

Emma Bowman

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