Caleb Williams shares devastating similarities to former NFL Draft bust

Caleb Williams is about to be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but his early days of playing football bring back haunting memories of a former USC QB turned NFL Draft bust
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Before his glory days at USC/Oklahoma, Caleb Williams, the potential No. 1 pick of the NFL Draft, was a star at Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C.

As the leader of the Eagles, Williams further highlighted the success of the Gonzaga program, earning the starting quarterback job on varsity as a freshman. He won the Gatorade District of Columbia Football Player of the Year as a sophomore and won a conference championship with a viral last-second 59-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass against national power DeMatha Catholic.

In his junior year, the last before COVID arrived, Williams was a first team All-Met selection and conference MVP. Also, one of his teammates is offensive tackle Olu Fashanu, who went on to star at Penn State and is expected to be a first round pick in this year's draft. Could the Chicago Bears reunite these two in hopes of bringing the organization back to prominence? It's possible, with the two first-round picks the Bears own.

How did Williams accomplish all of this in high school? Where does his drive to be excellent and to compete come from, and where did it begin? According to Dane Brugler of The Athletic, the training for excellence that Williams underwhent as a child is rigorous and was driven by his father Carl, a commercial real estate developer.

"Williams originally played running back and linebacker at the Pop
Warner level and often played up several levels because of his athleticism and physicality (earned the nickname “Bobby Boucher” after Adam Sandler’s character in
The Waterboy). He started dabbling with the idea of playing quarterback in fourth grade and made the move in fifth grade. At age 10, Williams and his father created
“The Plan” and laid out an aggressive training regimen to put him on the path to the NFL, including sessions with sports psychologists, specialized diets and 5:30 a.m.
workouts at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Md. He also trained with Mark McCain and Russell Tho mas, who became business
partners with Carl (they co-own AR Capitol Region training center and are part of the family’s inner circle)."

The Athletic

Wait a second, aggressive training, 5:30 AM workouts, specialized diets? Doesn't that seem a bit too familiar? If you are thinking of Todd Marinovich, you have reason to be right, but also to be weary. That story? Oof. It's a tale all right, a tale of overbearing pressure breaking pipes. For those who are unaware, here's a history lesson for you.

Like Williams, Marinovich's childhood was spent building his body into being an NFL quarterback, led by his father Marv, a former USC Captain, NFL Draft Pick, and strength/conditioning coach. Unlike Williams, the story of how Marv molded Todd as a child is far more appalling, yet true, ranging from his diet, to training conditions, to on the field play in high school, and worse, how Marv viewed his son.

"To Marv, Todd wasn’t only a son, but a science project. Before Todd was a month old, Marv started stretching his hamstrings in his crib. Before he could walk, Marv had Todd lifting medicine balls. He was allowed to eat only healthy food, fruits and vegetables."

Bill Dwyre of the LA Times

If that wasn't enough, LA Times writer Bill Dwyre reported on how as a child, young Todd never ate a Big Mac or an Oreo. When he went to birthday parties as a kid, he would take his own cake and ice cream to avoid any form of sugar or refined white flour. Before Todd even reached his second month of existence, there was Marv, already working on his son's physical conditioning, including stretching his hamstrings. Push ups were next. Marv invented a game in which Todd would try to lift a medicine ball onto a kitchen counter. There was a football in Todd's crib from day one.

"Marv started gathering experts to work on every aspect of Todd's physical condition—speed, agility, strength, flexibility, quickness, body control, endurance, nutrition. He found one to improve Todd's peripheral vision. He enlisted a throwing coach and a motion coach and a psychologist. These days 13 different experts are donating their time in the name of science"

Sports Illustrated

Geez. Could you let the kid live a little? Clearly, Marv didn't. Todd went on to be a star at USC, but without the childhood experience or even having an opportunity to break away and experience the world outside of being in a strict basket case, a situation some kids who don't play football or any sport still experience to this day due to overbearing and ego-driven parenting, Todd fell into drugs and rebellion, and his time in the NFL after being a 1st-round pick by the Raiders was both short and disappointing.

Caleb Williams' upbringings are eerily similar to a former USC QB turned NFL Draft Bust

What's that got to do with Caleb Williams? Well for one, when someone brings up that type of early regimen and the USC connection combined with the father bing driven to ride the success of his son, there's going to be comparisons. History is out there and no matter what anyone does, that story lives on in lore, or in this case, infamy.

HOWEVER, Williams is NOTHING like Marinovich. For one, Carl was not a former football player and strength/conditioning coach like Marv. Furthermore, Williams TRANSFERRED to USC after starting out at Oklahoma. Most important of all, there are no drug habits or off the field concerns about Williams like there was for Marinovich. The pink nails and pink phone case? Get over yourselves if you have any sort of issue with it.

The Chicago Bears, who are likely going to take Williams No. 1 overall, should do it. They are getting a man who, unlike Marinoch, seems to have benefitted from a grueling early regimen, and made himself a stronger player as a result. Anyone who wants to complain about the tears with mom incident after USC's loss to Washington can go kick rocks, a man is allowed to show emotion, and his mother being the one to comfort? 1000% acceptable, regardless of the situation.

Marinovich didn't have the greatest relationship with his father because of what transpired, and it has been documented. That's not the case with Williams. If anything, he's been outwardly grateful for the support and structure provided by his family, meaning he's worth the pick. His childhood experiences of training maintaining his body show trends that bring back a scary, yet cautionary tale, but it's safe to believe Williams will be just fine with the pros.

Next. NFL Rumors: Caleb Williams has answered all but one draft concern Bears could have. NFL Rumors: Caleb Williams has answered all but one draft concern Bears could have. dark