Gonzaga College High School’s Caleb Williams, the consensus No. 1 dual-threat quarterback for the Class of 2021, says Maryland is an attractive potential landing spot because of the relationships he’s built with the coaching staff and thinks the Terps are headed in the right direction regardless of whether or not he commits there.
Williams recently named the final five schools he’s considering, and Maryland made the cut. In addition to the Terps, he’s considering Clemson, LSU, Penn State and Oklahoma. Maryland is the local school of the bunch for the Bowie, Md., native but also stands out because it isn’t a perennial power like the other four programs.
The Terps went 3-9 in 2019 and last had a winning record in 2014. Meanwhile, LSU won the national championship in January; Clemson has won two of the past four national titles; Oklahoma has produced two of the past three Heisman Trophy winners, and Penn State has won 11 games three of the past four years.
But Williams is confident Maryland is on the right path under head coach Michael Locksley. With 10 commits in tow, the Terps are No. 9 in 247Sports’ composite rankings for the Class of 2021. They have two consensus four-star recruits in the class: Quince Orchard defensive end Demeioun Robinson, who committed March 27, and St. John’s defensive tackle Taizse Johnson.
Locksley, a D.C. native, is focused on building a winner through local talent, and Williams thinks Locksley can make it happen.
“If he can turn it around — he always says this — he can be the Nick Saban of the DMV area,” Williams said on Glenn Clark Radio March 30. “We have some pretty good, talented athletes in this area that always go away and go to Penn State, the Clemsons and Ohio States and things like that. They always go to those schools. With Coach Locksley being here and bringing in guys like right now off his first year, it’s pretty special if you couldn’t tell.”
Williams has known Locksley since the coach was at Alabama; the Crimson Tide offered Williams a scholarship when he was a freshman at D.C.-based Gonzaga. Since then, Williams has become one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the country and Locksley has taken on the task of trying to turn Maryland around.
That Locksley has identified Williams as a top priority is no surprise. If the Terps are to compete in the brutal Big Ten, they’re going to need to find the high-end quarterback play they haven’t had in some time. The position has been besieged by injury and ineffectiveness in recent years; C.J. Brown is the last player to open consecutive seasons (2013 and 2014) as the starting quarterback.
Williams said he “began a really good relationship” with Locksley when the coach was at Alabama.
“Also, my family members — my dad, my uncles and things like that — know Coach Locksley,” Williams said. “They knew him before I knew him. I’ve got relationships with the coaches, and then what they’ve been able to do this past recent year with the recruiting obviously proved something.”
Terps offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery is Williams’ lead recruiter. Williams met Montgomery during a camp at Duke when the coach was with the Blue Devils. Montgomery coached at Duke from 2013-2015, serving as the offensive coordinator under head coach David Cutcliffe in 2014 and 2015. Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee from 1993-1998 and coached future Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning from 1994-1997.
“That’s pretty special to be the behind-the-scenes guy for Coach Cutcliffe, a guy that coached Peyton Manning. He’s a frickin’ legend,” Williams said. “… He’s a really good guy, a family guy. He’s also a real, real genuine guy. We’ve talked and it wasn’t even about football. We talked about other things in my life and things like that.”
In 2019, Williams threw for 1,756 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran for 838 yards and another 18 scores. For the second straight year, he earned first-team Washington Post All-Metro honors and was the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Williams has helped lead the Eagles to 8-4, 9-3 and 8-3 records in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Williams’ most memorable moment came when Gonzaga won the 2018 WCAC championship game in dramatic fashion in 2018. The Eagles beat DeMatha, 46-43, on a last-second Hail Mary from Williams to John Marshall, part of a wild finish. It was the first time Gonzaga had won the WCAC since 2002.
The throw was a window into Williams’ talent. He says he can throw the ball between 70 and 73 yards.
“I’ve had good games and things like that, but this was my best game,” said Williams, who threw for seven touchdowns against DeMatha. “When I threw the Hail Mary, it was like 64 yards and not 53. I was on the opposite 40, so it was about 60 and it went farther into the end zone. It was still up in the air and then one of my teammates jumped up and got it, obviously.”
Williams says he’s long wanted to commit before the start of his senior year, but he’s in a holding pattern right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruits can’t visit campuses around the country, nor can coaches visit prospects at their homes. That means Williams is communicating with coaches via phone calls, texts or FaceTime.
“I’m in no rush. I don’t believe in really rushing,” Williams said. “I like to be on time. I like to be on time and right. This decision could mean a lot to me and my family and generations to come, so I want to make the right decision.”
To hear more from Williams, including how he met Lamar Jackson, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gonzaga College High School