Sports

Three-Point Stance: Caleb Williams, signees, portal additions


Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with the latest Caleb Williams rumors, a look at some 2022 signees who could help replace big names at high-profile programs and the best transfer so far for each Big Ten team.

1. BREAKING DOWN CALEB WILLIAMS’ MANY OPTIONS

The Caleb Williams saga has been fascinating with yet another program added to the mix since he announced he was headed to the portal from Oklahoma. Here are the programs I’ve heard linked to the star quarterback with Wisconsin bringing it to double-digits. And only two programs that I’ve heard from the beginning still remain.

USC — This was the first program that came to mind when he announced his intentions because, obviously, he chose Oklahoma in part for Lincoln Riley in the first place. And USC remains solidly in contention and likely the lead. NIL comes into play and his knowledge of the offense coupled with the possibilities in Los Angeles remain hard to beat. Add in former teammate wide receiver Mario Williams, who he helped recruit to Oklahoma out of high school, and it seems like a no-brainer. Except Williams hasn’t pulled the trigger yet which is odd.

LSU — This was Williams’ second choice out of high school and despite quarterback guru Joe Brady being gone, he liked many things about LSU. But not only is Brady long gone but so is Ed Orgeron who recruited him. However, Brian Kelly and his staff are legitimately still in this race from what I hear.

Wisconsin — I’ll put the Badgers next even though they are the latest to be mentioned. Here’s what I can only guess has happened — Baltimore Ravens TE coach Bobby Engram has been rumored to be a candidate as the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Engram has been in Baltimore since 2014 and Williams hails from Maryland as well. Apparently there is a family friendship there. Someone took that and ran with it to push Williams to Wisconsin rumors which flies in the face of the offensive and QB development the family wants and to some extent NIL. I have asked around to everyone. No one believes Wisconsin is a player here. Maybe they are all wrong and he surprises but this one came out of the blue.

Georgia — Georgia was very much involved with Williams make no mistake about it. They could still be as they were replaced by LSU according to sources as the No. 2 team behind USC. The problem? Arch Manning. Why is this a problem? Because you don’t know what to believe. Is UGA telling Williams they want him and the Mannings they don’t? Georgia had the lead for the 2023 No. 1 player in the country ahead of Alabama and Ole Miss. This I have from good sources. But with the Williams flirtation that lead is no longer mentioned to my sources. I can tell you this with assurance — they won’t get both unless something crazy happens. I’ve been told Arch wants to play and play right away and Caleb has two years minimum left before the NFL. Do the math.

Oklahoma — Williams didn’t eliminate the idea of a return to the Sooners and Brent Venables and new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby gave it a run but I’m told this won’t happen.

UCLA — The Bruins had some good momentum and were being mentioned very early when Williams made his announcement. There was talk of a Mario and Caleb package deal to UCLA despite stronger ties to other schools. Then all that talk went away — quickly. And once Mario picked USC I haven’t heard UCLA since even though Caleb Williams did tour the campus.

Ole Miss — This was mentioned early as well as Lane Kiffin has done a great job with Matt Corral and the starting job is open. But I never heard anyone say there was interest on behalf of Williams and the Manning situation is in play here as well.

Clemson — Williams liked Clemson coming out of high school. That’s about the only thing I could find to connect the two. Dabo Swinney doesn’t aggressively attack the portal and they are happy with what they have in place at quarterback. Sure they added former five-star Hunter Johnson but I never heard anything of substance about Williams.

Miami Tyler Van Dyke is good and very few people know it nationally. But Miami was mentioned because there was apparent interest in hiring Joe Brady. Brady, who was fired this season as the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers, is apparently staying in the NFL and that was the only link to Miami I could find.

Auburn — Auburn needed a quarterback and Bryan Harsin is well respected as an offensive mind. That’s it, that’s all. Auburn has since landed Zach Calzada (Texas A&M) and Robby Ashford (Oregon) but neither comes close to Williams’ ability. But this was mentioned early and some bogus NIL rumor on Reddit kept it alive for some reason.

Penn State — Williams hails from Maryland. Penn State was in his top five out of high school (but not in final three). Penn State recruits Maryland well. Penn State is close to home. That’s about it. I’ve found nothing else since this was brought up when he first announced.

Maryland — Just because it’s his home state school and they were in his top five. There is little doubt Mike Locksley reached out — he would have to — but I’ve heard nothing of a return home.

Eastern Michigan — Well, Charlie Batch did offer Williams $1 million to head to his alma-mater on Twitter.

Mississippi State — This was arguably the oddest of all of them. It’s because someone felt Williams could put up monster numbers in a Mike Leach system. That’s kind of it.

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2. KEY SIGNEES FOR POWER PROGRAMS

Aaron Anderson

Aaron Anderson (Rivals.com)

Here’s a look at some important signees that could help replace some huge losses for power programs.

Michigan — No one is going to replace Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo but keep an eye on Derrick Moore from Maryland. St. Frances players have been up and down but physically he has a shot to help the depth on the defensive line.

Alabama Jameson Williams is gone and Jermaine Burton from Georgia is a great transfer but they have a slot receiver in Aaron Anderson who reminds some of Jaylen Waddle so watch out for him.

Georgia — Georgia has great depth at many spots but Derion Kendrick was huge down the stretch for them and either Jaheim Singletary or Julian Humphrey should step in right away and provide immediate help.

Texas A&M DeMarvin Leal is a beast and will be missed but watch Walter Nolen. He could be even better.

Ohio State — So the focus is on the losses at wide recover with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave gone but that’s not a position of need — at all. DT Haskell Garrett will leave a big hole in the middle but look for recent commitment Hero Kanu to help with depth with his impressive size. He’s raw but moves well.

LSU Laterrance Welch has size and he steps into a situation where LSU is losing both Derek Stingley Jr. (NFL Draft) and Elias Ricks (Alabama transfer). Some transfers will help but he could make the early rotation.

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3. THE TOP TRANSFER ADDITIONS FOR EACH BIG TEN PROGRAM

Connor Bazelak

Connor Bazelak (USA Today Sports Images)

Finally, here are the top transfer portal additions for each program in the Big Ten.

Illinois: Tommy DeVito (QB, Syracuse) – DeVito has plenty of starting experience under his belt and now heads to Champaign where he’s expected to compete for the starting job. While he doesn’t have as high an upside as some of the other quarterbacks on this list, he’s still a solid piece for the Illini.

Indiana: Connor Bazelak (QB, Missouri) – Bazelak has shown flashes in his two years as the starter at Missouri and he’ll come into a Hoosiers team that hit rock bottom last year with the chance to jump-start their offense. He’s got a big arm and sneaky mobility, but he’ll be throwing to a rebuilt receiver corps.

Iowa: N/A – The only team in the conference with no commits via the portal, the Hawkeyes are clearly being picky with who they target. The reigning Big Ten West champs don’t have a ton of holes on their roster but don’t be surprised if they target depth on the defensive line.

Maryland: Jacob Copeland (WR, Florida)Mike Locksley nabbed a big-time receiver in Copeland and he should add to an already strong passing attack in College Park. Copeland led the Gators in receptions, yards, and touchdowns last season, and he’ll pair with Dontay Demus Jr. to form one of the stronger receiving pairs in the Big Ten.

Michigan: Victor Oluwatimi (C, Virginia) – Michigan landed a stud for the interior of their offensive line. The Rimington Award finalist was a second-team All-American last season for the Hoosiers and will replace Andrew Vastardis, who is moving on the the NFL.

Michigan State: Jalen Berger (RB, Wisconsin) – Berger was dismissed from Wisconsin in September after looking very impressive as a true freshman in 2020. The talent is there with the former Rivals100 member and with Kenneth Walker off to the draft, he has a chance to step in and be the guy for the Spartans this year.

Minnesota: Shannon Bishop (CB, Western Kentucky) – Bishop comes over from the Hilltoppers where he was first-team All-Conference USA at corner last season. He’s not only valuable as a corner though – he’s an outstanding returner who also honorable mention All-CUSA as a kick returner.

Nebraska: Casey Thompson (QB, Texas) – Nebraska actually brought in two quarterbacks from the portal – Thompson and FSU’s Chubba Purdy, but I see Thompson as having the inside track to the starting position to replace Adrian Martinez. Thompson started 10 games last year as a freshman for the Longhorns and displayed some big-play ability.

Northwestern: Wendell Davis (LB, Pitt) – The Wildcats have been very active in the portal, needing to rebuild a defense that dropped way off in 2021 after a stellar 2020 season. Davis is a thumper in the middle and flashed at Pitt during his two seasons for the Panthers.

Ohio State: Tanner McCalister (DB, Oklahoma State) – McCalister is following his defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Stillwater to Columbus, adding to an already deep cornerback room. He was a two-year starter for the Cowboys and already knows the ins and outs of the system that Knowles is bringing with him.

Penn State: Mitchell Tinsley (WR, Western Kentucky) – The only player that the Nittany Lions have added through the portal is by default their biggest addition, but don’t sleep on Tinsley. With Jahan Dotson off to the pros, there’s an opening at receiver and Tinsley has already proven that he’s more than capable. He had 87 catches for more than 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns last season in the Hilltoppers’ wide-open offense.

Purdue: Reese Taylor (DB, Indiana) – Purdue nabbed the Hoosiers’ nickelback in the portal, and he is expected to slot in as CB1 for the Boilermakers in the upcoming season. The former Indiana Mr. Football in high school has great speed and should make an immediate impact.

Rutgers: J.D. DiRenzo (OL, Sacred Heart) – DiRenzo had no shortage of offers. The two-time FCS All-American tackle reported more than 20 FBS offers before choosing home-state Rutgers over the likes of Nebraska, Kentucky, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss. He’s a plug-and-play left tackle that should be an All-Big Ten performer next year.

Wisconsin: Jay Shaw (DB, UCLA) – Shaw was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season and graded out as the No. 4 corner in the conference per PFF. He should immediately step in and start for a defense that is losing its entire starting secondary.



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