Caleb Williams is in the transfer portal - these are his most likely landing spots


Credit: Caleb Williams (Instagram)

It's safe to say that the transfer portal has changed college sports as we know it, and if you needed further proof of that, it came on Monday.


That's because on Monday Caleb Williams, the No. 1 quarterback in the high school class of 2021 (prior to Quinn Ewers reclassification) and the man who helped Oklahoma to a near Big 12 title has entered the transfer portal.


Put simply, Williams might be the most impactful player to ever enter the transfer portal, since the portal first became a "thing" a few years ago. This isn't just an elite player, at the sport's most important position, but a guy that already produced at the college level as a freshman - throwing for over 1,900 yards and 21 touchdowns in less than half a season of game action.


Basically, he's the kind of guy that just about every program in America would want, and a guy you'd be willing to take, even if you had an established quarterback.


Then there is extra intrigue, with this: Williams said following his decision to transfer that he would absolutely be willing to consider a return to Oklahoma.

Just one problem, immediately following Williams decision to enter the portal, Oklahoma got a commitment from former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who first committed to UCLA when he entered the portal.


That limits the possibility of Williams' return to Oklahoma, which could make this a true "free agency."


Let's look at the list of potential suitors.


USC: For obvious reasons, the Trojans are a logical landing spot, with that logic being pretty simple. Caleb Williams committed to Lincoln Riley out of high school. Lincoln Riley gave Williams a shot this season and he largely delivered. And Riley is now at USC.


While there's no way to gauge these things, it really does seem like the Trojans are probably in the driver's seat on this recruitment.


Still, it's far from a done deal.


One, USC does have a quarterback in Williams class who is pretty darn good - Jaxson Dart, who threw for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns in limited action this past season.


Two, if Williams and Riley were as close as some would lead you to believe, there's a simple question to be asked: Why did Williams not immediately enter the transfer portal upon Riley's departure? And why did Williams enter the portal with an open recruitment? Players can enter the portal and request no contact from other schools, if they don't want their phones flooded and know where they want to go. Williams did not do that.


Again, USC makes sense, and again, if Caleb Williams wants to come, you take him, even if you already have Jaxson Dart. But this seems like far from a done deal.


Georgia: So don't laugh, but in the hours prior to Williams officially announcing that he would enter the transfer portal, someone that knows and lives in the high school/college/NFL quarterback underworld tipped me off that Williams was thinking about putting his name in the portal, and mentioned Georgia as an option.


That was immediately followed by one strong report from a recruiting writer that Georgia would be the favorite. And another report that Georgia wasn't interested at all.


So yeah, how about that for intrigue.


First, even though Georgia could have a loaded quarterback room - JT Daniels, five-star 2021 signee Brock Vandagriff and four-star 2022 signee Carson Beck are all slated for next year's roster - they will lose Stetson Bennett, the primary starter for most of the season this year.


And two, if Williams is available, you seemingly take him no matter who else it upsets.


The simple truth is that Williams could be the final piece of what would once again be a national title contender. Independent of who Georgia loses this year to the draft, we know that they have the defense, run game and offensive line to compete with anyone in college football, and in general, what they're missing is a dynamic quarterback.


Based on how the situation went with Justin Fields a few years ago I'm not sure Georgia would be my personal first choice, but I do expect them to be in the mix.


Ole Miss: When Williams entered the portal, his father told Yahoo's Pete Thamel that a school's ability to develop him for the next level would be the ultimate factor in his son's decision-making process.


Well, at this point, here's the truth: If your goal is to be developed into the best quarterback you can be, there might not be a better coach in college football to do it than Lane Kiffin.


During Kiffin's time at Alabama he won four SEC titles with four different quarterbacks, and upon arriving at Ole Miss, turned Matt Corral into a fringe starter (he had lost the job to John Rhys Plumlee under Matt Luke) into a potential first round pick.


The big question at Ole Miss of course is whether the talent around him will be enough for Williams to compete at the highest level.


But Kiffin's bonafides speak for themselves.


LSU: Fun fact, Williams very much considered LSU out of high school - right up until Joe Brady decided to leave LSU for the NFL. One of the great "what if's" in recent college football history might just be, if Brady had decided to take a massive pay raise to stay at LSU (instead of go to the pros), would Williams have ended up in Baton Rouge? And would Coach O would still have his job?


We'll never know. But now, in the winter of 2022, LSU enters its bowl game tonight with just one scholarship quarterback (who won't play for redshirt reasons), Garrett Nussmeier. And they also have five-star Walker Howard coming in, in the class of 2022.


So yeah, at LSU you could probably argue there is a more clear path to playing time than just about anywhere on this list. And fewer people to upset in the quarterback room.


At the same time, there would be some people who might not be happy - highlighted by Walker Howard. To which it must be asked: Does Brian Kelly want to start off his regime, in Louisiana, where he's already an outsider, by recruiting right over the most high-profile player in his class - who is also a Louisiana native. Might not be a good start for recruiting in the state.


Two, while there is clearly playing time to be had, it is worth noting that Williams has no ties with the current staff in Baton Rouge. And that, between transfers and players declaring for the draft, this is far from a championship level roster that Williams would be joining.


Of course with Williams on the roster the ceiling would be much, much higher. And it's not as though he couldn't attract plenty of other talent himself out of the portal.


Florida: There is another first-year, first-time head coach in the SEC that has no established starter at quarterback. To which I ask: What better way would there be for Billy Napier to establish that he can swim with the big boys in recruiting than to go and land the biggest fish out there in Williams.


It'd be a home-run get for Napier, but also would come with some drawbacks too: Mainly, potentially upsetting not only his quarterback room, but also the local recruiting scene. Remember, projected starter Anthony Richardson is from right there in Gainesville.


So yeah, is that really the way you want to start things off in Gainesville - by recruiting right over the local kid?


Then again, if you win big with Williams, will it matter?


UCLA: Recruiting insider Brandon Huffman suggested the possibility of Williams landing at UCLA, which makes a whole lot more sense after Dillon Gabriel decided to revoke his commitment from the Bruins to head to Oklahoma.


Therefore, this is arguably the most intriguing school on this list, since, well, it would mean that Williams would be in the same city as his former head coach Lincoln Riley.


If NIL was a factor - remember the report about there being "Georgia being the leader unless they get outbid" - it seems unlikely that UCLA could keep up with the big boys of the SEC, however.


Oklahoma: There are other schools that Williams could consider, but all have their own drawbacks. Oregon has a playoff caliber roster, but does Williams want to put his future in the hands of a first-year, first time head coach? My quarterback source mentioned Michigan, but Cade McNamara has proven himself as a capable starter, and right behind him is a fellow five-star in the class of 2021 with JJ McCarthy.


Because of it, there is at least the possibility that Williams considers returning to Oklahoma. He knows the school and his teammates, and new head coach Brent Venables hired big-time offensive guru Jeff Lebby as his offensive coordinator. Marvin Mims is set to return and Theo Wease pulled his name out of the portal, so there will be plenty of talent at the wide receiver position.


At the same time, while Williams said he'd be interested in returning, Oklahoma didn't wait around - immediately grabbing another established starter at quarterback in Dillon Gabriel on Monday night.


Point being, it seems pretty unlikely that Williams returns at this point.


Which again, would make Williams the biggest fish in the history of college football's "free agent" era.



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