Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams' rare trait should help him revive Bears as he did USC

Caleb Williams helped resuscitate an iconic college program, and Lincoln Riley believes his inner wiring will allow him to do the same in Chicago

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Caleb Williams has never been shy about the big goals he sets for himself.

The Bears rookie quarterback set a goal to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft when he was a boy, a dream he achieved Thursday. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner has said he wants to surpass Tom Brady's mark of seven Super Bowl titles and told reporters at the draft in Detroit that he has no small plans for his career in Chicago.

"To be the greatest and to be able to sit at the table," Williams said of his vision for his Bears career. "You put dreams and goals in front of you that you aren’t able to reach within a year or two, and you try to go get ‘em. You have to consistently not get tired with consistency. Being able to be the same guy, being able to go in there and lead the guys and hold them accountable, and they hold me accountable to go get it. Having those team goals. The only way you can reach them.

"My last goal is immortality. The only way to reach that is winning championships. That’s big for me and something that is the reason I play the game. I’m excited."

Williams' openness about his big goals puts a bright spotlight on himself and his teammates. The same was the case during his college career at Oklahoma and USC, but head coach Lincoln Riley saw Williams' approach elevate and energize his teammates. That allowed USC to find quick success with Williams in 2022, and Riley believes the same formula will work in Chicago.

"I think he’s not scared for greatness," Riley told Chicago media during a conference call Friday. "He’s not scared to put it out there. He’s not scared to be himself, and I think you have to have that belief in yourself. You have to have that belief in the people around you, and it’s contagious. It is. When a leader or a quarterback feels that way about his team and about what they’re trying to accomplish, I think that it energizes the entire group.

"Especially I would really point towards– because in some ways there’s probably a lot of parallels coming into USC, where you’ve got an all-time iconic place that’s been a little bit down, and you’re trying to bring it back, and obviously there’s a lot of parallels with what he’s getting ready to come up and do in Chicago, and to have that jolt of confidence and excitement in the beginning to help get it off the ground, I think is a key part. He certainly has the inner belief to get that done."

Wide receiver Rome Odunze, whom the Bears drafted just eight picks after they selected Williams, has similarly high expectations for their Chicago tenure and believes that those expectations will seep into the team's fabric.

"I think he speaks it into existence," Odunze told reporters in Detroit. "I think that comes from a confidence in himself and the people around him to continue to have success that is very unique to himself. I see myself in that same fashion. I want to go out there and do legendary things, and that takes legendary goals and not the shyness to go out there and say that you're going to go out there and go do those things.

"I think it's going to be a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work and I'm 100 percent down for it," Odunze continued later. "If you're going to play this game, why not play it to be one of the greats. I think that's the mindset that I have and I think he shares that same mindset. ... If you're going to be play this game, why not be the best to ever do it. It's easier for a quarterback to do that than a receiver, right? Maybe I'll be second best behind Caleb."

Williams and Odunze put their respective college programs -- USC and Washington -- back on the map.

Now, they'll look to do the same with the Bears in Chicago. It's a tall task, but one that both of the Bears' new rookies seem uniquely wired to accomplish. And one Williams isn't going to shy away from.

“What’s the reason to duck?" Williams said of the high expectations for him. "It’s here. There’s no reason to duck. I’m here. Rome’s here. Keenan Allen, the top-five defense that we had last year, special teams, all the new roles – whatever. We’re here. I’m excited. I know everybody’s excited. The Bears fans are excited from what I’ve heard and seen, and there’s no reason to duck. Attack it head first and go get it.”

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