'Sunday good': Lincoln Riley, USC dish on Jordan Addison's recruitment and potential
LOS ANGELES — Caleb Williams said he and Jordan Addison just laughed at reports he’d been offered seven figures in NIL deals to transfer from Pitt to USC this summer. Lincoln Riley said he felt the star wideout was misrepresented by the discourse surrounding his entry into the transfer portal. USC, the head coach said, recruited Addison the same way it recruited every other player.
USC added a Heisman-contending quarterback and a Biletnikoff-winning wideout this offseason, and Friday at Pac-12 Media Day the Trojans punched back at any notion they did so while skirting or breaking the rules.
“We’ve worked hard through our careers as coaches, my career as a coach, to do things with integrity. I think we’ve largely done that throughout my career,” Riley said. “I think if you ask people that have been around us, been in the inner workings with us, they know how we go about our business.
“When someone challenges that with no facts and just only emotion, yeah, I mean, I think you take it personally. Absolutely you do.”
Riley was accused by a number of voices this summer—chief among them, reportedly, was Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi—about tampering with Addison’s recruitment.
The star wideout for the Panthers spent two seasons in Pittsburgh. He won a Biletnikoff last season as college football’s best wide receiver. He formed a terrific passing game partnership with then-Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett. With a torid offensive attack, Pitt raced to an ACC championship.
Then Mark Whipple, the architect of the offense, left.
Then Pickett was drafted.
And when Addison and the Panthers came out of spring ball, Addison decided to hit the portal.
“It wasn’t about NIL for Jordan,” said Williams, USC’s budding young quarterback. “That was one of the biggest things. Guys on the inside knew it wasn’t.
“Jordan wants to win. Jordan wants to be the best receiver. And no offense to any other school, but I’d put myself up there for QB. Having a wide receiver like him, I’d put that duo up against anybody. He’s a smart, smart, smart guy and he understood that.”
With USC, Addison could find himself on the receiving end of another Heisman finalists’ passes. The Trojans claim that’s what it comes down to. The timeline would seemingly back that up. Addison went through spring ball with Pitt. He got a crash course in the new offense. He saw new quarterback Kedon Slovis—ironically, a USC import—up close and personal.
“Despite all the negative things that were put out magically by somebody, he’s a kid that’s all about ball,” Riley said. “All he wanted to do in his entire official visit was talk ball. We literally missed like several of the meals, entertainment we had scheduled so we could watch more film and talk more ball. That’s all he’s about.
“I think he’s really been misrepresented throughout this whole thing. Hopefully as this year goes on people get to see the quality of young man that he is.”
And USC is ecstatic to have him.
Shane Lee, a transfer linebacker from Alabama, said he’s been around some great receivers in his college career—the understatement of the day—and few compare to Addison.
Williams said he texted at least 15 of his USC teammates seeking help in convincing Addison USC was the move for him. “We’re gonna need him to win some big games,” Williams said. “That’s how important Jordan was.”
He’s the fastest wideout on the team, by Williams’ estimation. “He runs like 23 miles an hour, which is crazy,” Williams said. And Addison, according to his teammates, can do just about anything.
“He’s a proven play-maker,” Riley said. “He’s a guy that’s proven that he wants to step out and continue to improve himself as a player. That’s what you’re looking for, explosiveness, a guy that wants to win, wants to be a part of this place.
“That combination is a great combination. It obviously gives our quarterbacks another weapon, I think somebody that’s going to be very difficult to cover one on one. We’ve had a pretty good history within the scheme of taking talented receivers and developing them and using them in creative ways that have given some people problems.”
Williams recalled a play this summer where he threw a ball over the safety to the back of the end zone. Addison went up and brought it down, toe-tapping the right side of the white line. When he got to the sideline, Williams smiled and said, “That’s Sunday good.”
Addison has NFL aspirations. That played a role in his transfer decision. USC did just send a receiver from a 4-8 squad into the top 10 of the most recent NFL Draft. But facts have a loose relationship with Narduzzi, who recently lambasted his old offensive coordinator for not running it more in a game they won 45-21.
The mercurial Addison had 126 receiving yards on eight catches that day to help Pitt capture some silverware.
He’s got his eyes on some gold at USC. Just not the kind everyone thinks.