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Caleb Williams opts out of Holiday Bowl, path to 2024 NFL Draft begins

The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner will not play in USC’s bowl game later this month.

UCLA v USC Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

USC head coach Lincoln Riley announced today that starting quarterback Caleb Williams will not play in their Holiday Bowl matchup against Louisville on December 27. Barring a surprise decision to stay in school, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is expected to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft, where he is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Williams just wrapped up his second season at USC, where he completed a career-high 68.6% of his passes for 3,633 yards with 30 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also showed off his ability as a red-zone threat by punching in a career-high 11 rushing TD’s. Despite these numbers, the 2023 season was a massive disappointment for Williams and the Trojans as they finished with a 7-5 record. The team had one of the worst defenses in the entire country and the reigning Heisman winner often found himself in a position where he had to put forth a Herculean effort just to keep USC in ballgames.

If he does declare for the NFL Draft soon, he’ll begin preparation for draft evaluation season with the NFL Scouting Combine approaching in February. As of this moment, the Chicago Bears own the No. 1 pick by way of the Carolina Panthers. Many draft experts have projected the organization to move on from current starting quarterback Justin Fields to take Williams, but that could change if Fields leads them to a respectable finish to end the regular season.