The following is a transcript of the speech USC quarterback Caleb Williams gave after winning the Heisman Trophy.
First I want to say thank you. Many Thanks. This is really great. It’s really great to be up here. So first of all I want to thank the whole Heisman Trust, all the voters, the finalists sitting right here in front of me – CJ [Stroud]Max [Duggan]Always [Stetson Bennett]. You are incredible competitors. And I’m so happy to be up here with you all. I’ve known Immerse from my visits to Georgia and he’s my host, which is kind of funny that I’m up here with him now.
But we’ve all been through this journey together for the past few days. And I might be up here today, but you all get to go to the college football playoffs.
I guess you can’t win them all.
To the men who stand behind me. Thank you for your passion for the game. Because kids like me who have dreams and goals to be up here and be the best started watching you all so thank you.
Next, a special shout out to my colleague Trojan Matt [Leinart]cars [Carson Palmer]mike [Garrett] for always supporting me since I made that trip across the country to USC. But to be part of this historic brotherhood now is truly an honor. It’s something I will cherish for the rest of my life. While this may be an individual award, I certainly understand that nothing – and absolutely nothing – in this sport or in life is done alone.
I want to thank our athletic director Mike Bohn and his wife Kim for being here today. Mike, I appreciate you for making us the best student athletes possible over and over again. My teammates and I appreciate you and everything you’ve done for USC.
Big dog, Coach [Lincoln] Riley. We signed on two different occasions but with the same dream. As we say, and you heard me say it in the dressing room, there can never be a great book or story without adversity. So we’ve been through a lot since our OU days. And even the sudden major change from Norman, Oklahoma, to the University of Southern California didn’t change our dreams. They say you either change your dreams or your habits and I sure as hell wouldn’t change my dreams. I’m glad you didn’t change yours either. But we both know the work isn’t done yet.
Mom Riley [Caitlin Riley, Lincoln’s wife], Sloan, Stella, thank you for letting me be a part of your family. And not only that, which allows him to coach me a lot more than he does – he should probably be home.
I want to thank all my USC brothers. I know we didn’t finish the way we wanted, but the cultural bond we formed will last forever. As I said, we still have a lot to do. A special greeting to this group. To the group that’s here today, the offensive linemen. Stand up, big boys, wherever you are. We are all here to celebrate our achievement. It can’t be done without each of you – Bobby [Haskins]Courtland [Ford], [Andrew] Vorhees, Gino [Quinones]board [Neilon]Dedi [Justin Dedich]jonah [Monheim]mason [Murphy]. Many Thanks. Many Thanks.
Thanks to my fraternity at Gonzaga College High School. Coach Randy Trivers, where are you, big dog? Stand up. Hello Hello.
You had the guts to compete as a ninth grader in the toughest high school conference in the country. The Gonzaga experience both on and off the field has helped prepare me in more ways than you can imagine. Coach, you may not know this. But the Gonzaga monster you instilled in us, which is meant for others, inspired me to start the Caleb Cares Foundation, which is about giving back. So thank you coach. Thank you Gonzaga.
It’s important to surround yourself with good people and a team you can trust. Special thanks to Mama Judy, Cody and Phil. Now to my mentors, Coach Mar, Coach Russ [Thomas] and Coach Basha. I appreciate you for always holding me accountable as a man and as a football player and always telling me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. You taught me how to be a QB and not play the QB position. You taught me to look at myself in the mirror and to like the man who looks back.
And now to the most important woman in my life. Thank you for always being my mother first. The woman behind the scenes who has a smile on her face and is ready to help others. You are an inspiration to me in many ways. To that old man over there, my father, he always walks to the beat of his own drum. Thank you for showing me the way. You instilled in me a work ethic from a young age that I cannot thank you enough for. From the training sessions and the nightly drills to opening Athletic Republic so my boys and I could train. You are always there for me and you make sacrifices in your life so I can achieve my dreams that eventually became our dreams. It may go unnoticed and unnoticed, but you mean the world to me. We’re in this together and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
That’s where my journey began. And it’s not the 4-year-old kid who loved to just go out there and run and tackle someone and score touchdowns. The journey really started when I was 10 years old. And the season ended and I had to give up my gear. And one thing I remember vividly was telling my dad on the car ride home that this is what I wanted to do for my career. I wanted to be a soccer player. I wanted to be quarterback. I loved it. I loved everything about it. A few years later I’m crying in a hotel room. And many of you have probably seen me cry after a loss. My team and I just lost the national championship and I didn’t get a chance to play. My trainer told me I was too short.
A fire lit inside me that night. That night I decided to play quarterback. And not just playing quarterback, but being the best quarterback. I wanted to influence the game. I wanted to share the ball with all my teammates. And if you know me and my dad, very plan oriented, we stayed up all night putting together a plan. And a travel schedule looked like this: 5:30am, workouts at the breakfast club. We also have 6:30pm in the lift, conditioning, getting bigger, stronger and faster. We had nutritionists, sleep patterns, sports psychologists, coaching experts, and we learned and played the game. The more I learned, the more I wanted.
But the path was not always easy. And this is me talking to the 11 year old boy out there who’s watching right now who was told you’re too small like they told me. Get out there, show them how big your heart is. To the seventh grader who, like me, was passed over on the team, use this adversity to ignite your passion as I did. To that ninth grader out there who nobody thinks can go to college, you can if you believe. To the 10th grader who lost the league game but believed we would come back and lose 20 points in the first half. Always think you have an Hail Mary up your sleeve. And for the college freshman who’s been fighting for a chance to contribute and get on the field with your brothers, your time is coming, move on. And if you lose your college playoff bid, know you’ll get through it like I did. And as I just learned. Back to work. The work is not done.
The early setbacks I encountered ignited a fire, they started my journey. Your journey will be your own. Just keep believing and go after your goals. If you are willing to put in the work and surround yourself with positive people, you can achieve anything. I used to write my goals in a journal and what used to be just words on a piece of paper now leaves me standing here. This is how all dreams really come true.
Many Thanks. Keep fighting.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/usc/story/2022-12-10/read-it-caleb-williams-heisman-trophy-speech ‘Just keep believing.’ Read Caleb Williams’ Heisman Trophy speech