Caleb Williams gets to work after move from Oklahoma to USC

Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network
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LOS ANGELES — Caleb Williams missed the entrance to work on the first day at USC. He jogged out of the John McKay Center and headed the wrong way down McClintock Avenue before he got pointed to the right door for practice at Howard Jones Field.

Sure, the quarterback with Heisman Trophy buzz is still getting used to his new home, even though he’s been in town for a month now.

Williams will have plenty of time to learn all the routes on and off the field before the Trojans get to the first game of the Lincoln Riley era in about five months.

Williams and Riley went to work for the first practice of spring football in a remarkable rebuilding project at the West Coast’s most storied college football program.

The former five-star recruit who followed his head coach from Norman to Los Angeles is excited by the opportunities presented in rebuilding a team that has undergone a comprehensive facelift after winning only four games last season.

“It’s a great day to be out here in sunny Southern California,” Williams said. “It’s just a little weird, because you have new colors, new logos and all those things. But it’s been really, really fun.”

After seizing the starting job at Oklahoma midway through his exciting freshman season, Williams is starting over on the West Coast with a wealth of endorsement deals and ample uncertainty. But it isn’t a completely fresh start, and that’s important to Williams.

Riley is here, as are former Sooners receiver Mario Williams and several key assistants and support personnel from Oklahoma. Williams also was already friendly with several Trojans – including his probable backup at USC, Miller Moss – from workouts and camps.

“I know a lot of guys out here already, because I come out here and train all the time,” Williams said. “A bunch of guys that were highly recruited athletes. But it is a pretty unique roster (at USC). We’ve got a lot of transfers, and that’s pretty unique to USC’s history. They’ve always been able to get whoever they wanted by recruitment, things like that.”

Riley also appeared to be thrilled to get to work after his stunning move to USC. The head coach participated actively in individual workouts with his new players, even filling the role of a defensive back during passing drills.

“It’s the hottest first spring practice in my life, for sure,” Riley said of the 80-degree temperatures. “But it was amazing. … I’ve been waiting 100 days for this, man. The way the players are responding, the way the staff is coming together, it energizes me. It excites me. I was so ready for this day to be here.”

Riley and Williams were joined by the full complement of newcomers to USC, including touted running backs Travis Dye (Oregon) and Austin Jones (Stanford). Riley and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch are teaching schemes to their new players, but they’re also spending much of spring building the team bonds and togetherness they’ll need in the fall.

USC could have well over two dozen transfer players on its roster by September, since Riley expects to add more transfers after spring ball shakes out at other schools.

“The main goal right now is learning how to practice, learning how to do things in a championship manner, learning how to come together as a team,” Riley said. “By the time we kick off the first game, this is going to be the most unique roster in the history of the school and one of the most unique rosters in the history of the sport. (There’s) a challenge there for us to really bond, so we’ve got to do that and establish our culture and identity. The other things are important, but that’s going to be the most important.”

Williams knows how to get to practice now, but he’s taking his time to learn his way around USC. When asked what had surprised him about campus so far, Williams laughed.

“Even from the garage to the facility, you’ve got to do a lot of walking,” Williams said. “I probably should get a scooter. It’s a lot of walking. You’ve got to have good time management.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.