New USC quarterback Caleb Williams makes his spring debut to positive reviews

USC quarterback Caleb Williams makes a pass during spring practice at USC on Tuesday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Caleb Williams emerged from the tunnel at the start of a new era for USC, a symbol of new hope in a white headband.

The last month had been a whirlwind of new for the Trojans’ new quarterback. New school. New city. New colors. New logo. New hype and expectations.

But as he jogged alone toward the first spring practice of his USC career, Williams touched the Trojans sword and threw up a “V for Victory” sign with two fingers to flashing cameras, deftly working through the motions as if they were muscle memory, as if he’d belonged here, in this role, all along.

Then, Williams took a hard left in the wrong direction, jogging away from USC’s practice field down McClintock Avenue, where a security guard stopped him and set him on the right path.

“It’s my first day!” Williams exclaimed, laughing as he finally found the door to the field.

The truth is Williams never expected to be here.

Until coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma in a hurry at the end of last season, Williams planned to spend the next two years as the Sooners’ star passer. The process that led him to choose Oklahoma in the first place hadn’t even allowed for the possibility of a transfer.

But here he was anyway, the most high-profile transfer in America and the face of a team built largely through the portal, on a campus 1,500 miles from his last one.

None of that had been part of his plans. So when it came to deciding on his next destination, Williams told himself he would take his time. Even as the college football world assumed he was all but bound for USC to rejoin Riley, Williams went through each step of the process he’d set out for himself, equally considering futures at Wisconsin and UCLA while USC fans held their…


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