DC’s Caleb Williams Wins Heisman Trophy

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The Gonzaga graduate was awarded the top prize in college sports.

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Caleb Williams, in 2018 as a sophomore at Gonzaga High School. Photograph by Conrad Singh, courtesy of Gonzaga.

Caleb Williams is the first player from the Washington, DC, area to receive the Heisman Trophy, the prestigious award given to the most outstanding college football player each year. The prize was first presented in 1935.

A 2021 graduate of Gonzaga College High School, Williams went on to play one season at the University of Oklahoma before transferring to the University of Southern California for his sophomore year. In December, Williams received the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. Among college quarterbacks, he’s in  first place in passing yards. This week, he was voted AP College Football Player of the Year.

“It’s a great thing for our area, a great thing for Gonzaga College High School, and a great thing for Caleb specifically,” Gonzaga football coach Randy Trivers said about Williams being among the finalists, before today’s award announcement. Trivers called his former player “a heck of an athlete, but also a heck of a person.” 

Williams grew up in Bowie and attended St. Pius before moving to Northwest DC with his family to attend Gonzaga. “It’s nice to be able to say that’s somebody that I’ve connected with,” Trivers said. “Whether it’s a fellow student at the school, or maybe a parent, or somebody in the community—to be able to feel good about it for him, but also for the sake of all of us sharing in that experience he’s had to build up to this moment.” 

In 2018, Williams led Gonzaga to victory when he threw a Hail Mary during the last few seconds against DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville. The 53-yard pass secured Gonzaga the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2002.  

As a teammate, Trivers said, Williams “had a very good blend of humility and self-confidence that really is infectious.” Trivers said the team trusted Williams as a leader and quarterback, and that trust “forges a bond amongst the team and allows a team to perform, maybe at a different level.” 

Off the field, Williams has his own foundation, Caleb Cares, dedicated to fighting bullying, and the Heisman may provide Williams the opportunity to expand his reach. “Somebody may have a worthy cause that they’re fighting for, but maybe they just don’t have a platform for people to listen. Now, people are going to be more apt to listen,” said Trivers. “Caleb has a really, really good heart. And so hopefully some of the things that he believes that can make a difference for others will be heard.”

Trivers said he hopes that his Gonzaga players—and others—find encouragement in Williams’s career: “He’s the type of athlete that inspires those that he’s playing with to play at their very best. So it’s neat to see him continue to do those things that he did here on the next level.”

Katie Kenny

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