Caleb Williams is a consensus 5-star student athlete and according to multiple sources, the top ranked quarterback in the class of 2021. As such, coaches of blue blood programs bide for his attention, collegiate fan bases stalk his social media, and recruiting services follow his every move in hopes of being the first to accurately update his 'crystal ball.'
Physically, Williams checks all the boxes sought after in a top-tier QB: arm strength, velocity, accuracy, mobility, and he can make every throw in the route tree. On the field, Williams embodies everything coaches look for in a football player -- but it’s who he is off the field that makes him a generational student athlete.
“Mentally, he sees it; he sees the game,” said Williams’ offensive coordinator, Danny Schaechter. “Kind of like Mozart could look at a piano and he could see music. Einstein looked at a blackboard with numbers and he could see the universe. Caleb can look at a defense and he can see patterns in the open grass.
“He can see what another person is doing and anticipate what’s going to happen. You’ve got guys who are great athletes but not great football players because they can’t see it the way someone like Caleb can.”
Williams was highly-touted before he ever stepped foot on a high school field. His accomplishments in youth football led to him being recruited by the top programs in the region. Once he chose Gonzaga, Schaechter said it didn’t take long for Williams' way of being to outshine his arm-talent.
“This is how Caleb really took over as our starting quarterback going into his freshmen year,” Schaecter remembered. “We were at Penn State for a 7-on-7 tournament and he was in a high-pressure situation, but when you looked at him, it was as if he was somewhere on the beach.
“Everyone else was frantic, but he was poised, calm and relaxed. Making big plays against teams filled with great players, and he’s out there leading us to wins.”
Schaechter says Williams led by example in those early days, but by way of personal growth and work ethic, he has become one of Gonzaga’s vocal leaders in present day. His knowledge of the playbook and ability to communicate with his peers allows him to serve as an on-field extension of his coaching staff.
“Every single year he gets better and better about understanding offenses and defenses and how to properly prepare on the practice field. He’ll coach the receivers and tell them, ‘this is what I need you to do when the defender is doing this,'” Schaechter said. “He’s taking exactly what we’re coaching and giving it to his teammates, just in his own way. That’s a testament to the time he puts in and his commitment to this program.”
Last season, Williams accounted for 40 touchdowns and amassed nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage en route to being named the NBC Sports Washington Offensive Player of the Year. In his three seasons as Gonzaga’s starting quarterback, he has led the Eagles to two WCAC championship games, winning it all as a sophomore. According to his OC, it’s Williams’ intrinsic drive that fuels his desire to succeed at the highest level.
“The guy is ultra competitive. He loves to be the best," Schaechter said. "He has a chip on his shoulder at all times. He’s always trying to show how great he can be, and that stems from his belief in himself, his confidence in his ability and the work he puts into it all.”
With all the accolades and accomplishments, it would be understandable for a student athlete in Williams’ position to adopt a “me-first” attitude. The feeling at Gonzaga, though, is Williams values being a great teammate above all else.
“The whole recruiting game has never gotten to his head to the point that he’s arrogant or that he thinks he’s better than other people,” Schaechter said. “He’s a great teammate and a great guy. He knows he’s lucky to have the talent that he has and he just wants to use his platform to help others.”