Oklahoma football: Caleb Williams enters transfer portal

If Caleb Williams stays at OU, his popularity would skyrocket even more. The Sooner quarterback would be the OU version of Russell Westbrook.cover main
If Caleb Williams stays at OU, his popularity would skyrocket even more. The Sooner quarterback would be the OU version of Russell Westbrook.cover main /

The proverbial other shoe fell on Monday — more like crashed — on the Oklahoma football program.

Multiple news sources are reporting that OU freshman sensation Caleb Williams has entered the transfer portal.

Williams, who was the No, 1 quarterback recruit in the 2020 class, said returning to Oklahoma will “definitely be an option” in a statement he posted on Monday on his Twitter account.

“I came to Oklahoma with a game plan,” he said in his Twitter message, “but with all the recent changes, I need to figure out what is the right path for me moving forward.”

He said the only way he is allowed to speak with other schools under current NCAA rules and see who may offer the best preparation and development toward his future goals is to enter his name in the transfer portal.

Williams has been quiet about his status and future plans ever since learning that the coach who brought him to Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley, was leaving the program to take the head-coaching job at USC.

The Sooner freshman quarterback remained with the team through the preparation for the Sooners Alamo Bowl game against Oregon. He started the game at quarterback for the Sooners, his seventh start in his first season at OU, and played well, 78 percent of his 27 pass attempts for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

Williams’ father, Carl Williams, told Yahoo Sports that professional development is a top priority for his son.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and head coach Brent Venables issued a statement immediately following the Williams announcement:

"“Caleb Williams enjoyed and impactful first season at the University of Oklahoma and we will continue to be engaged with him and his family on a comprehensive plan for his development as a student and a quarterback, including a path to graduation and strategic leveraging of NIL opportunities.“While we believe OU provides Caleb the best opportunity to develop as a player and to realize his goals for college and beyond,” the statement continued, “we respect his right to explore his options following key staffing changes here.”"

So now we begin another period of high uncertainty for Oklahoma football heading into the 2022 season and beyond. The Sooners have already lost Spencer Rattler, another former No. 1 quarterback recruit, who lost his starting job to Williams midway through the season. Rattler is now at South Carolina. OU does have a four-star quarterback prospect in its 2022 class (Nick Evers, who recently decommitted from Florida and signed with Oklahoma on early signing day Dec. 15), but there is only one scholarship quarterback on the current roster (Micah Bowens).

Over the past month, following the news that Riley was leaving, the Sooners have lost several top recruiting commitments. Several current players entered the transfer portal and nine players have declared for the NFL Draft. The hiring of Brent Venables helped stem some of the defections, but it has always been known that Caleb Williams was the critical piece in terms of positive momentum and promise for continued success moving forward into next season.

If Williams ultimately chooses to continue his career with another program, the Sooners will find themselves in further danger of losing other players who came to OU or are considering the Sooners because of Williams. Today’s revelation could have cascading consequences.

I’m not certain what kind of conversations Venables and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby have had with Williams or what Williams’ takeaway has been from those discussions, but it almost seems to me that he has one if not both feet out the door and is looking for something better than what he has at Oklahoma.

I’m sorry, but to me, saying Oklahoma is definitely an option and the door remains open for him to return to OU is public relations language for, “It’s been nice, but I’m out of here” or “Thanks for the memories, and I wish you all well.”

Let’s all hope that is an overreaction on my part. Perhaps we should have trust and faith in the OU administration and coaching staff that they will deliver the things Williams and his family want to hear. My concern is that they’ve had plenty of time and a captive audience in which to get that done, but their persuasive powers have not hit the sweet spot.

So now we wait to see how this ultimately plays out. The transfer portal is the obvious place to start mining a plan B.

The irony of this situation is that at the beginning of last season, the Sooners were blessed with an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position with two five-star, No. 1 QB recruits in the fold. Today, Oklahoma finds itself without a quarterback.