He was a special kid before he started high school

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Caleb Williams was losing “board races” at Gonzaga College High School and he didn’t like it.
“The big differentiator is the mental side of the game,” Schaechter said.
But what happened at Gonzaga carries over to today as Williams becomes the new face of the Chicago Bears.
“It was Caleb,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney and Williams had crossed paths at quarterback training sessions, but the personal interactions were few.
GO DEEPER Greenberg: All Caleb Williams has to do in Chicago is be himself … and win lots of games Then came a seven-on-seven competition at Penn State against conference rival Good Counsel.
With Williams as its freshman starter, Gonzaga reached the WCAC championship, losing to St. John’s College High School.
GO DEEPER Bears GM Ryan Poles getting strong feedback on QB Caleb Williams Different tests and triumphs awaited Williams in his following years at Gonzaga.


Gonzaga College High School student Caleb Williams was losing “board races,” and he was not happy about it.

Williams, though, needed to get some education.

Danny Schaechter, who was Gonzaga’s offensive coordinator at the time, oversaw those board elections during spring meetings. Schaechter would indicate play, personnel, and formation during the call.

Basketball, Boston, South, Personnel Kings, Right Wide.

“Whoever could draw up all eleven” on a dry-erase board would win, he declared.

It was necessary for the quarterbacks to be aware of their roles, reads, and forward pass protection.

Schaechter said, “the whole shebang.”.

The winning quarterback would then have to explain everything, and against various coverages. Further pressure was added when additional players were invited to participate in the board race meetings.

Schaechter stated, “Caleb lost a lot.”.

Williams was a Washington, D.C. native who was a freshman at Gonzaga. football giant. He would be up against two upperclassmen. He was gifted physically and had the arm talent to match theirs. However, they were aware of the transgression. He didn’t do that.

When quarterbacks ran plays against defensive calls on their own and then had to explain their decisions, Schaechter referred to these sessions as “shadow walkthroughs,” where the quarterbacks faced similar difficulties.

Schaechter stated, “The mental aspect of the game is the big differentiator.”. When he would make mistakes during those shadow reps and lose four races, he would truly take it to heart. “.

Investigate further.

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However, Williams got better with time. Everything made sense. He would triumph in a single race. Next one more. Smoothness increased in the shadow walkthroughs. There were fewer corrections made.

As Schaechter put it, “He was hungry for it.”. “He desired to become familiar with the X’s and O’s.”. “.

His desire was to triumph.

You have to demonstrate and earn these kinds of things at Gonzaga. Parents, players, coaches, and everyone else at the school need to see it. That was done by Williams.

Gonzaga head coach Randy Trivers stated, “It’s rare that a freshman is going to be developed enough in a way physically, mentally, and emotionally to be able to be a starter.”. And that’s a whole other animal when you throw a quarterback into that. “.

Yet Williams was not like that. That is now evident. However, Williams’ experience at Gonzaga has relevance to the present as the new face of the Chicago Bears. Gonzaga made him their No. 1 quarterback as a freshman, much like how he started in his first season at Oklahoma and will start for the Bears in his rookie season.

During Gonzaga’s mid-February workouts and film sessions, Sam Sweeney noticed a new freshman and wasn’t sure what to think. They generally appeared in the summer.

According to Sweeney, it was Caleb. After being accepted to Gonzaga, Williams joined.

Although they had not really interacted personally, Sweeney and Williams had crossed paths during quarterback practice. Sweeney was going to be a junior. It was his moment to play quarterback and make his mark in the fiercely competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, which has a reputation for being among the top high school football leagues in the nation.

John Marshall, the receiver, also desired to back Jared Morson. In addition to being a quarterback competitor, he was a close friend. But everyone was beginning to discuss this new freshman.

Marshall remarked, “I watched this kid launch the ball sixty yards—an eighth grader.”. It was something I had never seen before. “.

William was well on his way to becoming an NFL player. Jalen McMurray, a defensive back at Gonzaga who is in the same class as Williams, saw it firsthand as a founding member of Williams’ 5:30 a.m. M. breakfast clubs that, back in elementary school, began exercising on a soccer field.

The cornerback McMurray, who currently plays at Tennessee, said, “Everyone would want Caleb to be their quarterback and throw to them when we were doing one-on-ones.”. His unique qualities were evident even at an early age. “.

Not all of it was skill. It concerned the work he was doing and the way he approached it.

Sweeney remarked, “He was just very calm and mature.”. It’s clear that he was not flawless. There isn’t a quarterback at every level. But it was his willingness to pick things up quickly and his willingness to accept criticism—whether it came from me or the other players on the team or the coaches. “.

While Sweeney started all of the summer practices and seven-on-seven games, Williams received first-team playing time. Williams didn’t win any board races. Even after shadow walkthroughs, he was still corrected. Errors and incomplete throws occurred.

According to Schaechter, “He had a lot of really good productive struggles.”.


Caleb Williams just needs to be himself in Chicago and win a lot of games, according to Greenberg.

Next, a conference rival Good Counsel team faced Penn State in a seven-on-seven match. Williams wasn’t merely catching up to his more experienced rivals. The newcomer was going to overtake them.

“He was simply making every throw,” Schaechter remarked. “It could be a laser beam, a layered pass, or a gorgeous deep ball that had to be placed on the sideline and our receiver was the only one who could catch it.”. Additionally, he was not turning the ball over and was making wise judgments and reads. Subsequently, he was exhibiting those frequently scripted throws. “Man, this is incredible that a rising freshman is doing this right now,” is all we can say. “.”.

With the pads on, Williams was promoted to the first team during the first week of fall camp. At first, Sweeney found it difficult to accept. He remarked, “No matter what the circumstances, that’s hard to hear as a 16-year-old.”.

However, something superior emerged. Through their rivalry, Sweeney and Williams grew close. He would come to love Sweeney as a receiving target. It could just be “two dudes hanging out,” according to Sweeney. Williams belonged to the male group. Marshall stated that you could make fun of him by saying things like “he wasn’t that good at basketball,” and he would respond angrily. He would sometimes initiate it.

Sweeney, who went on to play lacrosse at Penn State, described him as “really just a normal guy who happens to be incredibly good at football.”. The upperclassmen, both on the offensive and defensive ends, seem to really respect him because of his incredible competitive spirit. And friendships grew out of that mutual regard. “.

Williams would eventually watch his older teammates, the Washington Capitals, win the Stanley Cup. A fantastic DdotC. moment in sports,” Sweeney remarked. More so than anyone else, he was getting crazy. Williams would ask them to yoga classes and even work out at his father’s gym. They all still communicate with him via texts.

Marshall, a defensive back at Navy, said, “He could not go anywhere and not fit in.”. He even developed close relationships with kids that he probably shouldn’t have, such as non-football players and other random schoolgoers. He was a very popular and endearing man. “.

That also remained unchanged as his profile rose. Gonzaga advanced to the WCAC championship game with Williams as its rookie starter, but a loss to St. John’s College High School.

Williams had moments of superstar performance all season long. Then came the scholarship offers from prestigious schools. As a joke, his teammates would “bow down” to him after each one. That is a fact of life at a school for boys only.

However, for Gonzaga’s sophomore season, Williams had higher expectations. And now the loss in the championship game had given them all motivation.

Marshall remarked, “He was as emotional as some of the seniors.”. Many students in lower grades lack emotional expression. He was crying alongside the seniors in the locker room. Even in his first year, he was really close to all of us. He thus understood that he would need to develop into an even greater leader than he already was if he was to go on to the next phase. “.

consecutive contests versus St. It was necessary for John to adopt new strategies and ways of thinking during Williams’ sophomore campaign. In high school football, it’s one of the oldest rivalries. The 97th meeting between them would be the first game, and St. That season, John’s was unbeaten and ranked third in the country, attracting a lot of Division I recruits.

The first game was the regular-season finale in Week 10 between St. The teams would still play each other in the playoffs the following week even though John’s won 34–17. According to Sweeney, the Gonzaga team was instructed to approach the game as an eight-quarter contest. There would be changes for the rematch. It was Gonzaga’s plan.

Every time, Schaechter stated, “we want to snap the ball with one to two seconds remaining on the clock.”. “Either a fullback or no back will be in the backfield when we line up. And Caleb is the only one who will run the ball.

“Dude, I hope your body’s ready,” I said to him. I’m hoping your heart and mind are prepared. Because, unless you happen to toss it to someone else, you’re the only guy who has touched the ball. And he cherished it. “.

Williams’ goal in his second season as a starter was to develop as a leader. That wasn’t at first simple. He was a sophomore at the time. The Gonzaga captaincy was limited to seniors. However, he was the starting quarterback for the group. He had to lead with his play and voice.

“You could feel that all offseason, especially for him,” McMurray said. “You can see how focused he was, how determined he was to win. That’s something, if you know Caleb, he’s the ultimate competitor. ”.


Dream scenario plays out for Bears as they pair Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze.

Williams’ toughness was not only tested against St. John’s, but it became one of the reasons Gonzaga hung with its rival on a cold and windy day. He lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by St. John’s in the second quarter, but he finished with 23 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown in the second half. He ran the ball like “a workhouse tailback,” Trivers said. He also completed 7 of 10 passes for 134 yards.

Williams did what it took to win. That’s what mattered most. It was everything.

“He savored it,” Schaechter said. “He craved it. ”.

“That was the first time I saw his true physical power that wasn’t just his arm,” Sweeney said.

Gonzaga’s plan worked. Linebacker Aaron Davis returned a fumble 95 yards in the fourth quarter to secure the 24-14 upset victory. But what Williams was able to do changed the game.

“It wasn’t pretty football at all, but it’s just the confidence in him to trust him with the ball and him to trust everyone else to make a lane … and do whatever was needed to get a first down and just march that ball down the field,” Sweeney said. It was quite exceptional and one-of-a-kind. Up until, you know, a week later, we thought that was the craziest game of our lives. “.

In one of the wildest endings ever for a high school football game, Williams threw a winning Hail Mary pass to Marshall after time expired to give Gonzaga a 46-43 victory over DeMatha Catholic in the WCAC championship.

“It was a perfect pass,” Marshall said.

But before it can be discussed further, a third and thirty-three. It’s equally unforgettable for the Gonzaga players and coaches. Williams converted it on Gonzaga’s previous possession during what probably should have been a game-winning drive.

On second down, Williams was sacked trying to make a play — and he was down. He was in serious, awful pain.

“You see him laying on the ground, “Schaechter said, “and I’m on the headset, ‘Dude, you gotta get up. Get up, get up. If you stay down, they’re gonna pull you out. ‘”.

“He gets up limping,” Sweeney added.

They didn’t know it at the time, but Williams had a broken foot. But there was a game to win, a legacy to make.

With the distance needed for the first down on the third-and-33, Sweeney and the other receivers had to adjust their routes — and Williams had to adjust his throw. It would take longer to convert. Gonzaga’s running back was the first read for Williams down the middle. But he was covered.

Williams got to Sweeney, who was running a corner route.

“I broke it off and looked up and that ball’s hanging right there — tight spiral,” Sweeney said.

Schaechter described it as a “perfect spot drop in the bucket.”. And what a fantastic catch Sam Sweeney made. It was sick. ”.

First down. Game on.


Greenberg: Caleb Williams might be the unique quarterback who takes the Bears to the promised land.

Even though Sweeney was later in the progression, Williams would tell Sweeney days later that he was always going to target him on that play.

“That just shows the confidence and trust that we had in each other,” he said.

The duo later connected on the go-ahead touchdown for Gonzaga on that drive. It came after what Gonzaga thought was the winning score was waved off. Receiver Dean Engram was ruled out of bounds. They had to keep going.

Sweeney saw something, too. He was open over the middle. He told Williams to watch him on a quick slant, especially if the defense was in Cover 0 man coverage. DeMatha came out in exactly that. Safety Nick Cross — who later became a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 — covered Sweeney. He had been spying Williams all game.

“Caleb caught the (snap), dipped like he was going to do almost a QB draw, and luckily that space is wide open,” Sweeney said. “He just put the ball in a place that only I could get it, pretty much right at my knees. Luckily I was able to catch it, make a play and kind of roll over the defender into the end zone. ”.

Gonzaga celebrated like it won the toughest conference in high school football. But the game wasn’t over. There were 29 seconds remaining. An encore from Williams would be required. DeMatha returned the ensuing squib kick for a touchdown — and then celebrated like it won the title.

“A lot of the seniors are upset on the sideline, myself included,” Marshall said. “He’s coming up to us. And he’s like, ‘We still have time left. … Keep your head up. … This is not how we’re gonna go out. … We got a chance. … We practiced this. ’”.

Gonzaga did that every week, Marshall said. Including in the days before the championship game. The team had a Hail Mary package. It had a plan and it had Williams.

“His energy flipped right to, ‘OK, here we are in this moment … and how am I going to help my team be triumphant?’” Trivers said.

On the decisive play, Williams bounced in the pocket to allow his receivers to get into the end zone as the final three seconds came off the clock. When he stepped into his pass — with his injured foot — he was on Gonzaga’s 41-yard line.

“I just remember the ball just being launched in the air and just coming straight into my vicinity, almost like there was nobody else out there and it was just me and him,” Marshall said.

Sweeney watched from the sideline.

“It felt like it was up there for a year,” he said. “And when it finally came back down, there’s a pile. You don’t know. But John Marshall was wearing white gloves. And I just remember seeing the white gloves. ”.

The ball was within them.


Gonzaga won its first championship in 16 years — on Williams’ birthday.


Bears GM Ryan Poles getting strong feedback on QB Caleb Williams.

Different tests and triumphs awaited Williams in his following years at Gonzaga. He lost in the semifinals as a junior, and his senior season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Gonzaga knew early on what it had in Williams: a program-changing quarterback.

“It was very clear this young kid had an inner faith and belief in his ability,” Trivers said. “So his body language, his tone, the way he handled himself, (it’s) what you need it at that position. You need somebody that, in the face of challenge and adversity, is going to be able to stand strong. You could see he had that quality about him. ….

“Caleb was very self-confident, in terms of, ‘OK, I’m prepared, and I believe in what I can do. I’m not going to waver or falter, or wilt when challenged. ‘”.

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