Jordan Addison, college football’s top receiver, announces he’s transferring to USC

The top receiver in college football is on his way to USC in a transfer sure to send shock waves through a sport still grappling with its new free-market reality.

After entering the transfer portal amid a cloud of controversy, Jordan Addison made official Thursday what many had expected since his exit from Pittsburgh last month. He’s heading to USC to be the top target in a Trojan offense that’s been rebuilt through the transfer portal by new coach Lincoln Riley.

Addison chose USC over Texas after visiting both schools within the last week. His arrival in an already crowded class of Trojan transfers could prove to be the piece de resistance of Riley’s offseason overhaul.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison runs after making a catch against Miami in October.

(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

In Addison, Riley adds one of the nation’s top playmakers to an offense that’s already added the top transfer quarterback (Caleb Williams), one of the top transfer running backs (Travis Dye) and another of the top transfer receivers (Mario Williams). Addison is the 18th transfer to join USC since Riley’s hiring last November, but few have arrived with such established bonafides.

That aggressive approach to the portal has inflamed some critics across college football — most notably in Western Pennsylvania, where officials at Pitt last month accused USC of tampering before Addison entered the portal on May 3. Those accusations, first reported by ESPN, inspired weeks of rumors about multimillion-dollar name, image and likeness deals Addison could command upon joining USC.

USC never commented on those accusations, and no evidence of tampering has emerged in Addison’s case. But in the meantime, the NCAA released new NIL guidelines last week in an attempt to crack down on the outsized influence outside boosters have had on the process.

Addison’s arrival at USC is sure to provide kindling for those accusations once again. In announcing his decision Thursday, Addison reflected on how he struggled with the decision to leave Pittsburgh, where last season he won the Biletnikoff Award as the outstanding receiver in college football.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison catches a pass during Pittsburgh's pro day in March.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison catches a pass during Pittsburgh’s pro day in March.

(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Had he stayed at Pittsburgh, Addison would have had a new quarterback, offensive coordinator and receivers coach. At USC, he’ll face similar change, but reunite with Williams, who, like him, grew up in the Washington, D.C. area.

“The last few weeks have been very difficult. I struggled with my decision as to whether I should exercise my right to enter the portal,” Addison wrote. “Student athletes have not always had that opportunity, and I made that choice.”

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