LOS ANGELES (AP) — Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams has formally entered the NFL draft, leaving Southern California after two prolific seasons.
Williams made his long-anticipated announcement on social media Monday, the final day for underclassmen to enter the draft.
He is widely considered the favorite to be the No. 1 selection in the draft, which begins April 25. The Chicago Bears currently hold the top pick.
“I still have a lot to learn and I’m ready to do whatever it takes,” Williams wrote on his Instagram post announcing the decision. “As a kid, I said this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life, but I didn’t work this hard just to reach this point. I will continue my journey to make that little kid proud of the man I will be for many years to come. I’m excited for the future, and I am officially declaring for the NFL draft.”
Williams passed for 10,082 yards with 93 touchdowns and 14 interceptions during three collegiate seasons at Oklahoma and USC. He became the Trojans' eighth Heisman Trophy winner in 2022 after following coach Lincoln Riley from Norman to the West Coast, and he put up another superlative statistical season last fall even while the Trojans struggled in an 8-5 season.
The Washington, D.C.-area native is considered one of the top quarterback prospects to enter the NFL in recent seasons. With a strong arm, superb elusiveness and playmaking acumen, Williams led the Trojans to a massive one-year improvement and a Cotton Bowl berth during his Heisman season.
The Trojans were much worse in the just-completed season largely due to one of the worst defenses in college football, but Williams still showcased enough of his remarkable talent to remain the most desired quarterback in the nation.
Williams' well-rounded skill set also includes the ability to rush for 21 touchdowns in the past two seasons at USC, even though he doesn't see himself as a running quarterback.
The Bears will have the first chance to add Williams as the centerpiece of their roster, but Justin Fields has been their starter for most of the past three seasons since they drafted him No. 11 overall. The second pick in the draft is held by Williams' hometown Washington Commanders, and rebuilding New England is third.
Although Williams waited until the last day to declare for the draft, the Trojans have anticipated his departure for months. Williams didn't play in the Holiday Bowl, where backup Miller Moss threw a bowl-record six touchdown passes and emerged as the surprising front-runner to replace Williams at USC in the fall.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football