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Nailed it: USC QB Caleb Williams’ season was full of manicured messages

Heisman finalist Caleb Williams has nailed his first season with the USC Trojans in more ways than one.

The sophomore transfer quarterback is responsible for 47 touchdowns (37 passing, 10 rushing), which is the most in the FBS this season and in USC history. Williams, the Trojans’ first Heisman finalist since 2005, is also one of two FBS players in the past five seasons with at least 4,000 total yards and five or fewer turnovers

Aside from his amazing play, Williams has found a unique way to send messages on the field — with his painted nails.

In February, Williams explained the origin for his flashy fingernails on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts.

“My mom was my inspiration,” he said. “I mean, she’s been doing nails since I could remember. … So I was playing my game, messing with my mom and kind of just sitting there she’d always do my nails. I didn’t get paint on him, but she’d always do ’em.”

Most recently, Williams sent a manicured message to the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 championship.

Utah QB Cameron Rising was not amused.

“He had f— Utah on there? That’s cute,” Rising said. “You know, you can do whatever you want, put whatever you want on your nails. I’m not, not going to judge you for whatever you do, but yeah, I hope he liked it.”

Williams had an impressive effort through the air with 363 yards and three touchdowns, but he also committed two turnovers in USC’s 47-24 loss.

Here’s a look at how some of his messages have lined up with his performances throughout the season:

Williams tallied 232 passing yards and one touchdown, added three more scores on the ground and even struck the Heisman pose after his first rushing touchdown in the second quarter.

“I honestly struck it because a bunch of my teammates was saying do it,” Williams said after the game. “After I score I normally just kind of don’t do anything and so they told me to do it and they kept saying it so I ended up doing it in the moment.”

His nails expressed a similar sentiment as the game against Utah, reading “F—” on one hand and “NDXX” on the other.

He had the same message, except with UCLA on his left hand when he faced the Trojans’ crosstown rivals.

USC had a season-high 648 yards of total offense and Williams was responsible for 503 of them. He completed 32 of 43 passes for 470 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while rushing for 33 yards and an additional score.

Williams accounted for five of USC’s seven touchdowns with three in the air and two on the ground. He passed for 268 yards.

The Buffaloes didn’t merit nail art. Williams wore the same nail design from the previous game against Cal.

Williams scored all but one of the Trojans’ six touchdowns and was just two yards short of tallying 400 total yards.

Similar to the Utah and Notre Dame games, Williams had the swear word but included a design on one finger before spelling out “Cal.”

Even without top receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams for the second consecutive week, USC’s Heisman contender managed to have an exceptional game. He threw for a then-career high 411 yards and five touchdowns in a back-and-forth contest.

On USC’s first possession, Williams converted on third-and-8 with a 55-yard run that was responsible for the bulk of his 58 rushing yards. He finished with 381 passing yards and five touchdowns.

In his first game against Utah, Williams was at the end of a run of games with designs and emojis on his hands. Prior to the direct swears at opponents, Williams had been using symbols and pictures since the beginning of the season.

In an uncharacteristic game, Williams only went 15 of 29 for 188 yards with two touchdowns, but it was enough for a victory.

Williams passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 44 yards and another score on the ground.

Williams’ only touchdown right on time in Week 4’s low-scoring affair. With 73 seconds left in the game, he connected with Addison on a 21-yard pass for the go-ahead score. He finished with 207 total yards, 180 passing and 27 rushing.

Williams earned four touchdowns, splitting the scores equally on the ground and through the air. He threw for 284 yards and went 25 for 37.

Williams passed for 341 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans cruised to a win. He completed 13 of his first 15 passes and finished the day 20 for 27.

Saying that Williams’ debut in Southern California went well would be an understatement. He completed 19 of 22 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He was also USC’s leading rusher with 68 yards.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story


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