The richest 2022 transfer class in college football has gotten richer.
Much, much richer.
Reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison announced on Thursday via Twitter that he is transferring to USC. Addison, a five-star receiver and the No. 1 player available in the transfer portal according to 247Sports, amassed 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns with Pittsburgh in his award-winning sophomore campaign.
He’ll be the latest addition to a Trojans offense that’s been completely overhauled in the five-plus months since Lincoln Riley took over as head coach in late November. Addison joins four-star Oklahoma transfer sophomore Mario Williams, four-star Colorado transfer junior Brenden Rice and three-star Washington transfer redshirt senior Terrell Bynum in USC’s receiving room.
That room already featured names such as redshirt juniors Tahj Washington and Kyle Ford, junior Gary Bryant Jr., redshirt freshman Kyron Ware-Hudson and incoming four-star freshman CJ Williams.
But even in that stacked receiving room, Addison might well be the cream of the crop. He was, after all, the cream of the receiving crop in college football last season, winning the Biletnikoff after ranking fourth in the Power Five in receptions, third in yards per game (113.8), second in receiving yards overall and first in touchdowns.
He, along with Heisman finalist quarterback Kenny Pickett, led Pitt to an 11-3 record and its first ACC Championship in program history.
“A part of me will always be [Hail to Pitt],” Addison wrote in his announcement. “I have now carefully considered the advice of my family and close friends and fully weighed both the risks and benefits associated with my decision. I also respect that others may make a different choice. But for me, I will continue my full development as a student athlete by enrolling at USC.”
Addison submitted his paperwork to enter the transfer portal on May 1 — the deadline to do so in order to play in 2022 without requiring a waiver — and his name officially appeared there on May 3. In the weeks since, Addison visited USC and Texas while also contemplating other schools and even a return to Pitt, but the Trojans and the Longhorns emerged as the frontrunners to land the star wideout.
One thing that certainly didn’t figure to hurt USC’s case: The prior relationship between Addison and five-star quarterback transfer sophomore Caleb Williams, both of whom are from the Washington, D.C. area.
USC’s initial emergence as a potential top destination for Addison was met with scrutiny from Pitt’s coaching staff, inspiring an April 29 phone call from Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi to Riley voicing his concerns, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Thamel reported that Pitt officials suspected USC of tampering, an allegation no current evidence supports. Ensuing chatter about rumored name, image and likeness opportunities in Los Angeles has followed Addison’s time in the transfer portal, not unrelated to the aforementioned tampering allegations.
When contacted by Annenberg Media about the allegations and reported phone call, USC’s athletic department said it had no comment, and Pittsburgh’s athletic department did not respond.
The 6-foot-0, 175-pound receiver is projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Upon Addison’s announcement on Thursday, Thamel reported that sources had said his “professional future” would drive his transfer decision. The NCAA’s relaxed One-Time Transfer Rule, allowing athletes to transfer without losing a year of eligibility or having to sit out for a season, made such a decision all the more pragmatic.
“The last few weeks have been very difficult,” Addison wrote. “I struggled with my decision as to whether I should exercise my right to enter the portal. Student athletes have not always had that opportunity, and I made that choice.”
That relaxed transfer landscape has been a catalyst for programs across the country — including Riley’s, to an even greater degree than most — to use the portal to their advantage in rebuilding programs or, on the contrary, to lose some of their top talent at a moment’s notice.
Riley has previously expressed mixed feelings about the current state of the transfer portal, stating that he supports the portal overall but that “guardrails” (a transfer window is a popular idea) might be necessary to tamper down some of the chaos.
Regardless, the portal has unquestionably become one of his greatest assets in revamping USC’s roster since he took over. Now, Jordan Addison isn’t merely that project’s latest installment: He’s also one of its most significant.