It’s a strange time in the life of USC star Caleb Williams. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner stands poised to be the likely number-one overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. So obviously, he’s about to reap the rewards of a huge contract and life as a professional athlete.
But for now, he’s still on campus, and still taking snaps as the starting quarterback for the Trojans – despite having no shot at the National Championship or a return trip to the Downt0wn Athletic Club on the horizon. This begs the question… Just what the hell is he playing for?
Seriously… what’s the point? Why should a guy who has potentially nine figures on the line continue to take that risk? With his Southern Cal squad currently sitting at 6-2, what does Caleb Williams have to gain by continuing his collegiate career?
It’s a touchy topic that too many traditionalists are timid to talk about, but recently, Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho brought up a nuclear option for the promising prospect. He put forth the opinion that Williams should pull the plug on his amateur career and look ahead to the pros.
On a recent episode of the FS1 talk show, SPEAK, the former NFL linebacker and New York Times bestselling author basically pointed out that economics – and not emotion – should be what matters for the young QB. And any loyalty he may feel for USC (or a desire to cement a collegiate legacy of some kind) should be cast aside for the long-term goal of a healthy entry into the National Football League.
“With National Championships hopes gone, Caleb Williams should consider sitting out the rest of the season,” Acho stated, “The Heisman is a long shot, CFB Playoffs are even less likely, and he won’t play in the bowl game. The risk of playing FAR outweighs the reward… Business decision.”
While Acho received his fair share of blowback from fans and fellow members of the media, he’s right. There’s no reward to Caleb Williams continuing to take hits in the pocket for USC. All he’s doing at this point is taking risks while biding his time. There’s no real reason to, considering he has nothing left to prove at this point, and every pro team already has the full book on him.
In reality? He would be better off taking this time to begin working with a quarterbacks coach or a passing guru from the NFL. One who could help him refine his game for the next level.
That’s because the next level is the ultimate level; it’s where Caleb Williams is destined to become a star. At least, that’s the story if you hear from most scouts and observers, anyway. And based on what we’ve seen so far, they’re right. He’s been like a man among boys in college, so there’s really no reason for him to stick around on the playground anymore. It’s time to go to work, but for real now.
Longtime football followers will say that’s a bit of blasphemy, to merely walk away and essentially quit on your team. It’s very easy to say that Williams should live up to his commitment to the school, his fellow players, and (most of all) their alumni and fanbase. However, schools and especially coaches have never been afraid to bail out on their athletes in the past. Loyalty hasn’t been a two-way street in college sports in a long time.
Ever since Acho’s remarks, it’s been a case of ‘kill the messenger’. The commentator may be taking some slings and arrows here and there for what he said, but it’s steeped much more in fact than it is fiction. He’s correct when he says that from a business perspective, Caleb Williams should simply throw up a pair of deuces and be out as far as the college game is concerned.
People may not like how that sounds. But no matter how much it rings in their ears? It’s a product of the current climate – a climate that has been created by the NCAA itself. One that has taught the so-called ‘student-athletes’ to treat themselves and their bodies like commodities… just like their state university does.
And in terms of tradition? That went out a long time ago. With the advent of super-conferences, the ridiculous influence of television networks, the rampant cheating, the playoff system, and the NIL contracts, this ain’t your Daddy’s college football anymore, anyway. A letterman’s jacket and a little campus are just springboards to fur coats and the French Riviera.
With all apologies to those who still tailgate at places like Happy Valley, The Big House, and The Swamp – all the pomp and pageantry that’s associated with college football doesn’t measure up to the big leagues. That goes beyond just the massive salary and extends to endorsements and prestige. National titles are nice, but it’s no comparison to winning a Lombardi Trophy and heading off to Disneyland.
The 6’1″, 215-pound hybrid athlete already runs a lot and plays a high-risk style. He takes some hits that many ‘traditional’ QBs wouldn’t. So why not just wait, and cash in on those collisions?
This isn’t necessarily new, as many prospects in past seasons have skipped their team’s bowl game if it’s ultimately just a meaningless showdown. (For example, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette both sat out their respective teams’ bowl battles in 2016, a few months ahead of the NFL Draft).
No one could begrudge Caleb Williams for protecting his greatest investment – himself. Alumni might be agitated at him for betraying the school. Old schoolers will argue he’s selfish and only thinking about the money. Analysts will also likely try to break down how many more players will decide to follow in his footsteps going forward.
But none of that should matter to the young signal caller right now, and that’s something that Emmanuel Acho quite concisely pointed out. No matter who agrees with him.
Caleb Williams has already put in enough work at the collegiate level. So much so, that he’s earned a high-paying job for his amateur exploits. Now? It’s time for him to ensure his spot at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft. That’s all… and not a snap more.
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