Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams could be leaving Norman.
Williams, a five-star recruit who starred for the Sooners in 2021 as a true freshman, announced Monday that he will put his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Williams said remaining at Oklahoma is an option but he also plans to communicate with other schools.
“I think we all come to college to find our own path and prepare for the future. I came to Oklahoma with a game plan, but with all of the recent changes, I need to figure out what is the right path for me moving forward,” Williams said. “According to NCAA rules, as a student-athlete, the 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. Staying at OU will definitely be an option as I begin this process.”
Williams cited “recent changes” at Oklahoma as the impetus for this decision. Lincoln Riley, who recruited Williams to OU, left the Sooners after the regular season concluded to become the head coach at USC. Williams characterized Riley’s departure as “sudden” and said it was “really hard” for the team.
Below is Williams’ full message:
Williams replaced Spencer Rattler as Oklahoma starter
Williams was rated as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2021 by Rivals.com. He signed with Oklahoma and made his impact felt when he took over for a struggling Spencer Rattler against Texas in Oct. 9.
Williams led a remarkable comeback against the rival Longhorns, throwing for 212 yards and two scores with 88 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 55-48 win. From there, he never let go of the starting role.
For the season, Williams threw for 1,912 yards, 21 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 442 yards and six scores on the year. He will be the most sought-after player on the transfer market.
Though the Sooners' Big 12 title streak was snapped because of a loss to Oklahoma State in the regular season finale, they closed out the year with a win over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl last week. Bob Stoops served as interim head coach in Riley's absence.
Following Riley's departure, Oklahoma hired former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as its new head coach. Venables was previously an assistant at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2011. Rattler, meanwhile, has since transferred to South Carolina.
Williams looking for NFL development
There is no pre-determined destination for Williams, his father, Carl Williams, told Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel.
The most important part of this equation for the family is finding a program that can develop Caleb into an NFL quarterback, Carl told Thamel.
“Professional development. We want Caleb to be ready to play when he becomes a pro. You go to college to get prepared for your career. His chosen career path is professional football. We want him to be prepared for when that time comes," Carl Williams told Thamel.
After Williams' announcement, Oklahoma released a joint statement from Venables and athletic director Joe Castiglione touting what OU can offer as he progresses in his career. That includes NIL opportunities, the program's track record of developing players for the NFL and playing under new OU offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
"While we believe OU provides Caleb the best opportunity to develop as a player and realize his goals for college and beyond, we respect his right to explore his options following key staffing changes here," the statement says.