The top receiver in college football is on his way to USC in a seismic move that is sure to send ripples through a sport still grappling with its new free-market reality.
After entering the transfer portal amid a cloud of controversy, Jordan Addison made it official on Thursday something many have suspected since his departure from Pittsburgh last month. The junior wide receiver heads to USC to be the top target in a Trojans offense completely rebuilt by new coach Lincoln Riley via the transfer portal.
Addison chose USC over Texas after visiting Los Angeles last weekend and Austin before that. His arrival provides Riley with a rare, ready-made replacement for top receiver Drake London, whose departure to the NFL should leave a gaping hole in the Trojans’ offense.
However, Addison would seamlessly step into that role, joining an already crowded class of Trojan transfers that included the top transfer quarterback (Caleb Williams), one of the top transfer running backs (Travis Dye) and three other top transfers. Portal’s receivers include (Mario Williams, Brenden Rice, and Terrell Bynum). If Williams has been the most coveted transfer on the portal this offseason, Addison is a close second, an exceptional playmaker who’s able to widen the field like few in college football.
No positional player was more coveted on the transfer portal this offseason than Addison, who caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season on his way to All-American honors and the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top receiver.
The notion that he would even leave Pittsburgh after such a stellar season would shake some in college football.
But Riley had no problem embracing a new landscape shaped by new rules for names, images and likenesses, and the transfer portal. When critics in Oklahoma ranted earlier this year about Sooner players following Riley to USC, the coach memorably explained that USC “didn’t take players from Oklahoma, we took players from the transfer portal.”
Similar allegations would follow Addison, who became the 19th transfer to join Riley at USC in less than six months. Few, if any, have arrived in LA with such established credibility.
Riley’s relentless approach to the portal has already ruffled feathers in college football — particularly in western Pennsylvania, where Pitt officials last month accused USC of tampering before Addison entered the portal on May 3. Those allegations, first reported by ESPN, inspired weeks of hysteria in college football amid rumors of multi-million dollar NIL deals Addison could command after joining USC.
USC has never commented on these allegations, and no evidence of tampering has surfaced in Addison’s case. Meanwhile, the NCAA released new NIL guidelines last week to address the outsized influence that external boosters have had on the process to date.
Addison’s arrival at USC is sure to reignite those allegations. Announcing his decision Thursday, Addison reflected on the difficulties he faced when making the decision to leave Pittsburgh.
“The last few weeks have been very difficult. I struggled with my decision on whether to exercise my right to enter the portal,” Addison wrote. “Sports students haven’t always had that opportunity and I made that choice.”
Had he stayed, Addison would have had a new quarterback, offensive coordinator, and receivers coach. He will face major changes at USC, but he will be reunited with a friend in Williams who, like him, grew up in the Washington DC area.
“I have now carefully considered the advice of my family and close friends and have fully weighed both the risks and benefits associated with my decision. I also respect that others might make different choices.”
This election is likely to leave some college football sour. But at USC, Addison’s star should shine even brighter, while Riley now finds himself with an embarrassment of wealth on offense – and a new crown jewel at his center.