Gold: Gone so soon? Assessing the Jordan Addison "Era" at USC
And just like that, it was over.
Jordan Addison, we hardly knew ye. The USC wide receiver formally confirmed Monday what had been expected for weeks — his intention to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.
That pegs it around 8 months in total he spent with the Trojans, yet with the amount of ink spilled about his transfer, you’d have thought he was here for years. Instead, just 11 games, 59 receptions, 875 yards and 8 touchdowns.
That’s what all the fuss was about?
Here’s a look at the brief Jordan Addison Era at USC, with one important question at the end.
As a freshman for Pitt in 2020, Addison made the most of a hectic, COVID-19 threatened season, catching 60 passes for 666 yards and 4 touchdowns while forming an instant connection with Kenny Pickett. But as a sophomore, he truly burst onto the national scene with Pickett blossoming into a 1st round pick.
Addison snagged 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2021, good enough to win the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver. Addison became Pitt’s 3rd Biletnikoff in history, joining Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Bryant.
Little did the Panthers know, danger was lurking in the form of Lincoln Riley.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 10, 2021
Not standing pat
On April 29, ESPN’s Pete Thamel dropped a bombshell.
Story on Pitt’s Jordan Addison mulling a transfer. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi called USC coach Lincoln Riley to express his displeasure, per source. Pitt officials suspect tampering. More details here: https://t.co/zo18cxttTr
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) April 30, 2022
The national media ate it up. Here was the country’s top wide receiver heading all the way across the land to play for Riley, the former Oklahoma head coach who shockingly left the Sooners to join the Trojans, taking his prolific freshman quarterback Caleb Williams along with him. Rumors of million-dollar NIL deals were bandied about.
But Williams and Addison knew each other from the Washington, D.C., area, where both played high school football. With Pitt introducing a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, Williams sold him on the idea of coming west and playing for the retooled Trojans.
“Caleb is Caleb,” Addison told reporters at a quarterback camp in May. “You don’t have to say much more than that. But just where USC is at, everything around it and with Lincoln here now, there’s a lot of great things I feel like I can do in his offense.
Making the move
On May 19, Addison made it official. USC’s transfer portal class, which already was the best in the nation, became an embarrassment of riches.
Two months later, when the Trojans first met with local media to kick off the 2022 campaign, it was clear Addison had already made a quick impression on his teammates.
“Jordan Addison is a freak of nature,” fellow transfers Travis Dye told reporters. “That man can run like a gazelle, has hands like nobody’s business. I always compare him to Calvin Ridley because he just has that type of running style and his cuts are just super smooth.”
At ACC Kickoff, meanwhile, Narduzzi couldn’t help but discuss Addison.
“I’m focused on our guys that want to be here at Pitt,” Narduzzi said. “And that’s going to be the key. Jordan’s a great kid, great player. We had fun with him for 2 years. I think we helped him get where he is today. I think we helped him win a Biletnikoff and be the player that he is.
“I think Kenny Pickett was pretty good. He had one of the best quarterbacks in the country throwing the ball every day. I think sometimes people forget how they got where they are. It was a special year. Got a ton of respect for Jordan, but young men got to make decisions based on what they know or what they thought and we kind of move on.”
A great start
Opposing Pac-12 teams got a chance to learn about Addison’s skills in a hurry. USC had a Week 2 road date at Stanford, which doubled as Addison’s conference coming out party.
A week after starting the season with 5 receptions for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns, Addison torched the Cardinal defense for 172 yards and 2 scores on 7 receptions, a preview of things to come.
He’d go on to score 6 times in USC’s first 4 games, including a crucial touchdown in the Trojans’ 17-14 win at Oregon State.
Caleb Williams Drops a Dime to Jordan Addison for Another #USC TOUCHDOWN 🙌🏼
— Scott Schrader (@Scott_Schrader) September 11, 2022
Pain and glory
One week after Addison dominated Arizona State for 105 yards on 8 catches, he was quiet in a 30-14 win over Washington State in Week 6, catching 3 balls for 37 yards.
He bounced back in a big way a week later on Oct. 15 with 7 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown against Utah. But he was injured midway through the game and the Trojans went on to lose, 43-42.
It would be almost a month before he’d play again, returning on Nov. 11 with just 1 reception for 2 yards in a 55-17 win over Colorado.
At that point, with 3 100-yard games and 5 games under 70 yards, it was a question how much the Trojans had gotten from their talented transfer.
Then USC traveled across town to play rival UCLA at the Rose Bowl, and Addison sure made his impact known.
Addison was the difference for USC in a 48-45 win, catching 11 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against an overmatched Bruins defensive backfield.
Jordan Addison clips vs. UCLA pic.twitter.com/tIseTUJ7JN
— Frankie Abbott (@FrankiesFilm) November 26, 2022
He’d go quiet once more a week later in a 38-27 win over No. 15 Notre Dame, and he didn’t make much noise in the Pac-12 title game against Utah, catching 5 passes for 65 yards.
The overall picture
And that was it. Addison opted out of the Cotton Bowl — where his presence most certainly would’ve been felt in a 46-45 loss — in order to rest up, heal up and prepare for the NFL Draft.
Addison finished the season with the 4 100-yards games and touchdowns in 6 different matchups, scoring 2 times twice. He had 875 yards, almost half of his 1,593 from a season before. His 79.55 yards per game ranked 6th in the Pac-12, and his 8 touchdowns tied for 2nd.
For his efforts, Addison was named first-team All-Pac-12.
The big question
So now it’s fair to ask: Do we need to shift our expectations for transfer portal stars?
Across a full season, Addison would have almost certainly led the conference in receiving yards, despite joining a cast of pass-catchers that included Mario Williams, Brenden Rice, Tahj Washington and more.
But he was never going to match his insane numbers from a year before, that much is clear. Perhaps we need to recalibrate the expectations for a guy like Dorian Singer, who led the league and Arizona in receiving yards before transferring to USC this year.
Are we really going to spill all this ink over 875 yards again?