Caleb Williams and CJ Stroud among Heisman Trophy finalists

When Caleb Williams transferred to USC in February, the quarterback was touted as a star in the making, the type of transformational talent capable of one day becoming the best player in college football.

Less than a year later, this distinction already seems essential for the passer of the Trojans. Williams was named a Heisman Trophy finalist 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 the awards ceremony on Saturday.

None have separated from the pack in the past month, as has Williams, who remains the heavy favorite for the award among bettors. The sophomore quarterback led USC to the brink of the college football playoffs, beating rivals Notre Dame and UCLA with outstanding performances in the final weeks of the season, in front of national audiences.

A hamstring injury hampered him in a devastating Pac-12 championship loss to Utah, ending USC’s enchanting run and questioning his availability for the Cotton Bowl next month. But Williams’ stranglehold on that college football season was already established by then.

After his transfer from Oklahoma became the talking point 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, tied for the national lead, to go with just four interceptions. If he’s healthy enough to bowl, he should have no problem breaking school records in either category.

But it was with his legs that Williams really stood out. His superb escapes from the pocket made him one of the most electrifying point guards in college football, as he racked up 10 rushing touchdowns to go with 372 rushing yards, the two totaling the most ever by a quarterback for the Trojans.

Williams would be the eighth Trojan to win the award, the most by a school, though the Heisman Trust still only recognizes seven because Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman trophy after NCAA violations involving the wearer of balloon.


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