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Caleb Williams: A Pro Before Turning Pro

Last Updated: January 16, 2024
Caleb Williams has officially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft, but the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner has already been living the life of a professional.

What a ride it’s been for USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

For starters, he wasn’t always the Trojans’ signal-caller. Starting his career with Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, Williams burst onto the scene after replacing a struggling Spencer Rattler and never looked back. He took over the starting job and put the rest of the college football world on notice after finishing out the season in that position.

Following Williams’ freshman year, Riley bolted west for USC, and the QB followed. The move worked out for Williams, who ended up winning the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,537 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2022. Those numbers dipped in 2023 to 3,633 yards and 30 touchdowns, but he did record career-high marks in completion percentage (68.6%) and QB rating (170.1).

While Williams still has some eligibility remaining, it was the college football world’s worst-kept secret that the QB would take his talents to the NFL following his junior campaign, despite his waiting until the final day to declare for the draft to do so.

Many project Williams to be taken No. 1 overall, with the pick belonging to the Chicago Bears. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding Williams and the Bears, specifically around a report claiming that the quarterback didn’t want to play in Chicago and would attempt to force his way elsewhere. However, that’s since been debunked, with reputable NFL Insider Ian Rapoport saying that the “Heisman trophy winner enters the process excited for whoever ends up selecting him.”

No matter where he ends up playing at the next level, Williams has already been operating like a professional during his time at USC. In addition to keeping his body right for a grueling season, the marketable star has also dominated off the field through NIL, finishing his college career with an annual valuation of $2.7 million per On3, good enough for No. 3 among college football athletes and No. 5 in the NIL 100 overall.

Here are just a few companies Williams signed NIL deals with: Wendy’s, Beats by Dre, Dr. Pepper, United Airlines, PlayStation, Alo, Neutrogena, & more.

“You learn how to add this portion of it to your life when you still have a lot of resources around you,” Williams told Boardroom of navigating endorsements. “Doing it at this level, I think, has been great because you’re not making the money at pro level. The main reason for college is to prepare yourself for the next level, so I think it’s been great.”

Williams’ NFL future will be determined come April, and he’ll have much to prove in various Pro Days, drills, interviews, etc. However, while there will certainly still be an adjustment period going up a level, what Williams has already proven is that he’s been a pro for a minute now.

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Caleb Williams NIL Market Value

All data via On3.com’s NIL rankings as of Jan. 16, 2024.

College Football NIL rank: 3
Overall NIL 100 rank: 5
Annual Valuation: $2.7 million
10-week High: $2.8 million
10-week Low: $2.7 million

The above monetary figures are via On3’s NIL Valuation, a proprietary algorithm that “establishes the overall NIL market and projected 12-month growth rate by measuring two categories, Brand Value Index and Roster Value Index.”

“While the algorithm includes deal data, it does not act as a tracker of the value of NIL deals athletes have completed to date, nor does it set an athlete’s NIL valuation for their entire career.”

Few athletes — if any — have had the rise in the NIL game that Williams has had. Guess that’s what happens when you have a Heisman to your name. But he’s also smart about it. Williams makes calculated deals with companies he feels aligned with, both now and moving forward.

“When [NIL] happened, it was just like a jumpstart,” Williams told Boardroom recently. “Now there’s more of an understanding. People are getting smarter, people are getting better with this whole thing, which I think is great.”

Notable Caleb Williams NIL Deals

Monarch Collective

As announced this week, Williams will back the new women’s sports-focused fund at Monarch Collective. Aiming to invest in teams, leagues, and media rights, the collective has already raised $109 million with Billie Jean King on board as well.

“There hasn’t necessarily been as much support as there should be in women’s sports,” Williams told Bloomberg.

He added: “If it’s not authentic, then I’m not going to do it.”

United Airlines

Having been a United loyalist well before this deal was recently made official, this was a natural connection for the USC QB. Through this partnership, Williams will post on social media and be featured in campaigns, while the airline will add direct flights between college towns for certain college football games.

For more on Williams’ deal with United, read the full story from Boardroom’s Russell Steinberg.

PlayStation

Williams is a gamer — on the field and on the sticks. This is why his recent partnership with PlayStation shouldn’t come as a surprise, joining the PlayStation’s Playmaker program.

The Heisman honoree is the first college athlete to join the initiative since it launched in February. The program has attracted pro athletes such as LeBron James, Ja’Marr Chase, and CeeDee Lamb.

Alo Yoga

In order to be nimble out there on the gridiron, one may have to incorporate certain techniques or exercises into their daily routine. For Williams, yoga has been a discipline that’s helped him over the years, so it’s no surprise to see him partner up with Alo Yoga.

“I have always been really into Yoga, been practicing it since high school,” Williams told Boardroom when the partnership was announced. “It’s an amazing whole body and mental workout, so being involved with a brand that I feel best represents that culture and more is awesome.”

Fanatics (Topps)

There were four college quarterbacks that Topps (and its parent company, Fanatics) decided to sign to NIL trading card deals — former Alabama QB Bryce Young, former Georgia QB Stetson Bennett, Oregon’s Bo Nix, and Caleb Williams. A No. 1 draft pick, two Heisman Trophy winners, and a national champion — not a bad class for Topps.

“I’m so excited to team up with Fanatics and Topps on this new trading card partnership,” Williams said in a news release at the time of the announcement last summer. “[It] will allow me to create an even deeper level of engagement with fans and collectors everywhere.”

Other notable deals: Neutrogena, AT&T, Beat by Dre

More NIL:

About The Author
Griffin Adams
Griffin Adams
Griffin Adams is an Editor at Boardroom. He's had previous stints with The Athletic and Catena Media, and has also seen his work appear in publications such as USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and MLB.com. A University of Utah graduate, he can be seen obnoxiously cheering on the Utes on Saturdays and is known to Trust The Process as a loyal Philadelphia 76ers fan.