Caleb Williams’ father says USC star could always return to school: ‘He’s got two shots at the apple’

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the leader of the No. 6 team in the country as the Pac-12 looks to break a six-year College Football Playoff drought. 

Williams is widely seen as the best quarterback in college football and is expected to be selected at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft

Caleb Williams smiles

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams smiles while walking off the field after winning a game against Nevada Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

But the prospect of the junior quarterback leaving USC after the 2023 season does not seem set in stone. 

In an interview with GQ, Williams’ father discussed the NFL Draft while hinting his son could return for his senior season if the team selecting at the top of the 2024 draft is not the right fit. 


“The funky thing about the NFL draft process is, he’d almost be better off not being drafted than being drafted first. The system is completely backwards,” Carl Williams told GQ. “The way the system is constructed, you go to the worst possible situation. The worst possible team, the worst organization in the league — because of their desire for parity — gets the first pick. So, it’s the gift and the curse.”

Williams said he’s spoken with people around football, including USC head coach Lincoln Riley, who told him his previous quarterbacks struggled due to where they wound up out of college. 

Caleb Williams runs against Nevada

Caleb Williams (13) of the USC Trojans runs the ball during the second quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 2, 2023, in Los Angeles.  (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

“I mean, I’ve talked to Archie Manning. His career was shot because he went to a horrible organization,” Williams said. “I’ve talked to Lincoln [Riley], and Kyler [Murray] struggled because of where he was drafted. Baker [Mayfield] struggled mightily because of where he was drafted. The organizations matter.


“He’s got two shots at the apple. So, if there’s not a good situation, the truth is, he can come back to school.”

Unlike quarterbacks of the past, Williams has been able to profit off his name, image and likeness (NIL) while in college, potentially making it easier for the Heisman winner to return to school. 

Prior to the season, Williams told ESPN he would make a decision on his future after the year. 

“That’s for sure now going to be an in-the-moment decision at the end of the year,” Williams told ESPN of the 2024 NFL draft. “It’s my third year, and the dream and goal was to go three and out. Being around these guys and in college and enjoying it. We’ll have to see at the end of this year.”

Caleb Williams raises his arms

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) reacts to a touchdown by quarterback Miller Moss against San Jose State during the second half of a game in Los Angeles Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

He expressed appreciation for the college experience and the culture Riley has created at USC. 


“Being in college now,” Williams told ESPN, “being part of this brotherhood and being with Coach Riley, it’s been awesome.”

Williams is off to a stellar start to his junior season. USC is 2-0 after defeating San Jose State and Nevada. 

Williams has thrown for 597 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions in two games. The Trojans face Stanford in Week 3. 

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