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By Andrew Thomison | @Andrew_Thomison

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — All eyes were on USC quarterback Caleb Williams Friday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine. Williams hears all of the comparisons to current NFL quarterbacks, including Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, but he’d rather just be known as himself.

“I don’t compare myself to other guys,” Williams said. “I tend to like to create history and rewrite history.”

That outlook, combined with his talent, has made Williams the expected No. 1 choice in the NFL Draft. He’s the creator of all quarterback creators, and the numbers that he put up while at both Oklahoma and USC more than showcase that.

During his last two seasons at USC, Williams threw for a grand total of 8,170 yards with 72 passing touchdowns to only ten interceptions. He also rushed for 21 touchdowns throughout both seasons.

Despite the impressive numbers this past season, USC finished only 7-5 and fell short of making the College Football Playoff. Williams recalls the challenges of last season and how those around him helped him navigate those difficulties.

“This is one of the seasons that it’s unlike any other season that I’ve had to where I’ve been so close to being either neutral or close to having a losing record,” Williams said. “It was tough for me. Like I said, I’m a competitor. I like to win, and so being that close to losing was difficult for me. But I have people in my corner to help me and figure out the energy I was feeling.”

As Williams prepares for the draft, he has made the decision to undergo medical examinations on a selective basis. “I’ll be doing the medical stuff, just not here in Indy,” Williams said. “Not 32 teams can draft me. There’s only one of me. So the teams that I go to for my visit, those teams will have the medical and that’ll be it.”

Williams said that USC coach Lincoln Riley helped him cope with the frustration and disappointment.

“I learned either you grow from something like that, and Lincoln sat me down after maybe our loss to Utah, I  believe, and he sat me down and he said you either grow from something like this, or you keep feeling this feeling, and you’ll stay where you are.”

Williams has been described as a generational quarterback talent, a label that gets tossed around on typically one college quarterback every few years. His talents were recognized early on when Williams was just four years old. His father put him through football around that age, and it didn’t take him long to realize his sons’ potential.

“My mom didn’t let me play tackle football my first year,” Williams said. “I thought I was gonna love it at four years old. I did, and the next year after that, I was a bit too aggressive with flag football, so my mom let me play tackle. From there, I fell in love even more. By the time I hit 11 or 12, I told my dad this is what I wanted to do, and we put together a plan. He’s helped every part of the way.”

Williams’ playing style has also been described as unique. He candidly acknowledged that and spoke on the importance of knowing the difference between when it’s time to be artistic and when it’s time to sit in the pocket and make a play from there.

“I like to think that when it’s time to be surgical, you know, it’s time to be surgical,” Williams said. “There’s been many games where it gets late in the game and I’ve ran or scrambled and threw a crazy pass that’s been the artist, the magician. Then there’s been times where I hurt my hamstring, and I couldn’t run. I sat in the pocket the whole time the rest of the game and delivered the pass.

“It’s important to be in the pocket. It’s part of the game,” Williams continued. “It’s also important to be out of the pocket and be just as good as you are in the pocket.”

While he’s been projected by many to be selected first overall by the Chicago Bears in April’s NFL Draft, Williams doesn’t concern himself with whether he’ll be picked first or not.

“That’s not a thought on my mind,” Williams said. “I think I put in all the hard work, all of the time, effort, energy into being that. So, I don’t think of a Plan B. That’s kind of how I did things. Stand with Plan A.”

Regardless of where Williams winds up come April, whether that’d be with the Bears or elsewhere, he simply wants to go someplace he can win.

“As I’ve said, I don’t play for fame, I don’t play for money, I don’t play for jewels and things like that,” Williams said. “It’s go out there and win as many games as possible and be the best that I can be.”