USC quarterback Caleb Williams has won the 2022 Heisman Trophy after a standout sophomore season under first-year coach Lincoln Riley, who has now coached three Heisman winners over his six seasons as a head coach, all of whom were transfers. Williams edged finalists Max Duggan of TCU, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Stetson Bennett IV of Georgia -- all quarterbacks -- to become the Trojans' first Heisman winner since running back Reggie Bush, who was later forced to vacate his 2005 award.
Williams passed for 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions while completing 66.1% of his passes this season. He guided USC to an 11-2 record and appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game where he played through injuries in a loss to Utah.
His victory gives USC eight Heismans, most among any program in the nation. However, given the Heisman Trust and NCAA no longer recognize Bush as having won the trophy in 2005, USC will be listed with seven Heismans, tying it for most all-time with Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
The Trojans, which ultimately came up just short of a conference title and potential College Football Playoff bid, are headed to the Cotton Bowl to play Tulane on Jan. 2. Williams' status remains to be determined for that game.
The three finalists who placed behind Williams will each participate in the playoff. Williams beating all three for college football's most prestigious individual award demonstrates his importance to USC's success this season. Entering the postseason, Williams leads the country in total points, having accounted for 47 touchdowns (37 passing) while proving to be the sport's most dynamic playmaker.
Once USC leading rusher Travis Dye was lost for the season with an injury on Nov. 11, Williams stepped his game up even further with 10 total touchdowns over his team's final three games -- all against ranked opponents. With the national spotlight on the Trojans, who were in the thick of the CFP race at the time, Williams ran for three touchdowns against Notre Dame and its celebrated defense. At one point, he appeared to flash the Heisman pose on his way into the end zone, seemingly in acknowledgement that his performance against the Fighting Irish cemented his place as a favorite for the award.
By then, candidates such as Michigan RB Blake Corum and Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker had suffered season-ending injuries that dampened their cases, thus clearing the path for Williams. Though injuries to a hamstring and a finger on his throwing hand hampered him in the Pac-12 title game, he still passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to keep his case strong as the voting deadline neared.
Like 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young of Alabama, Williams is expected to play another season of college football as he will not be eligible for the NFL Draft until after his junior season. He won't be the first USC quarterback to win the award and return to school the following season; Matt Leinart captured the Heisman in 2004 as a sophomore before his teammate, Bush, won it the following season.
2022 Heisman Trophy voting
Caleb Williams, QB, USC: 2,031 points (544 first-place votes)
Max Duggan, QB, TCU: 1,420 points (188 first-place votes)
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State: 539 points (37 first-place votes)
Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia: 349 points (36 first-place votes)
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee: 226 points (17 first-place votes)
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: 141 points (17 first-place votes)
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan: 125 points (8 first-place votes)
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington: 114 points (9 first-place votes)
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas: 75 points (4 first-place votes)
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina: 42 points (3 first-place votes)
USC's Heisman Trophy winners
|Year||Player||Position||% of points possible|
Reggie Bush (vacated)
* Bush vacated the trophy ahead of the Heisman Trust stripping him of the award