USC coach Lincoln Riley opens up on Jordan Addison transfer: 'This kid is all ball'
Lincoln Riley can’t remember a visit from a prospective player looking to play in his program—in all his years as a head coach—that was more football-focused than the one former Pitt wideout Jordan Addison took before agreeing to transfer to USC.
The Trojan head coach sat down with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd for an exclusive interview, and a brief snippet of the discussion was shared to Twitter on Tuesday during which Riley talks about the addition of Addison.
“I think the fun thing about Jordan is he came up on his official visit and he didn’t want to talk about anything else other than football,” Riley said. “That was one of the first questions he asked, ‘How do you think the team will accept me coming in?’ That shows you what kind of kid we brought in here.”
Asked directly about the rumors that Addison picked USC solely because of the potential for lucrative name, image, and likeness deals, Riley shrugged them aside.
“That’s the internet. That’s Twitter. That’s people that can say whatever they want with no responsibility attached behind it,” Riley said. “This kid is all ball, that’s why he’s at USC.”
"Here's a guy who could have played football anywhere he wanted to after the year he had… This kid is all (about) ball, and that's why he's at USC."
— 247Sports (@247Sports) June 7, 2022
Shortly after news broke of Addison’s commitment to USC, ESPN’s Paolo Uggetti reported that his decision was exactly that: it had more to do with football than it did NIL opportunities. That matched additional ESPN reporting from Pete Thamel around the same time.
Speaking at a quarterback retreat last week, per Uggetti, Addison reiterated that he was looking for a strong coach and a “good football opportunity,” adding that he first started thinking about transferring in December once Pitt lost offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and wideout coach Brennan Marion—who landed at Texas, a school that received interest from Addison.
The star wideout didn’t hit the portal until after Pitt had wrapped spring practices and he’d gotten the chance to see the new offensive changes.
But none of that has stopped rampant speculation and rumors that USC tampered with Addison and offered him seven-figure NIL deals. Pitt’s head coach reportedly called Riley directly to accuse him of tampering. A Pittsburgh radio host went on a wild tirade during which he said he hoped USC was given the death penalty from the NCAA and the LA Coliseum burned down.
Said Riley, “I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more football-centered visit that I can remember through all the years. All he wanted to do was watch tape and talk ball and talk about how we thought he could improve and how he could help the team.”
The USC head coach now gets to work one of college football’s best receivers into an offense that has produced some big-time receivers of its own. At Oklahoma, Riley coached up 1,000-yard pass-catchers who would go on to become NFL wideouts on multiple occasions—Sterling Shepard, Dede Westbrook, Hollywood Brown, and CeeDee Lamb.
“First, I think it’s exciting to have him here,” Riley said. “To have a guy that was one of the best players in college football that ultimately chose he wanted to be here at USC, that believed in us, that believed in this program and kinda what we were doing before we’ve even played a game, I think it’s excited. Guys like that, it sends a message to future recruits and the guys looking at it.
“Here’s a guy who could have played football anywhere he wanted to after the year he had, and he chose here. It’s going to be exciting to put him into our offense. Obviously, our offense has a tremendous history of great wide receivers. Guys who have produced and become tremendous players both at this level and in the NFL. It’s fun to watch all the great things he did at Pitt last year and think about him in our offense. It’s exciting because he brings instant productivity. He’s a very well-balanced receiver. Very good after the catch.”
We’ll get our first look at Addison and the remade Trojan offense on Sept. 3 against Rice.