Lincoln Riley has said before this Trojan roster could go down as one of the most unique in program history. In terms of how it came to be, the first-year USC coach has left no stone unturned, no mechanism not employed.  

“I think you’re constantly building all parts of your roster. You just never really get to a part where you’re like, ‘Alright, we’re set at o-line, we’re good there,’” Riley said in February. “I think you’re constantly looking to upgrade and you’ve got to constantly be ready with answers because it can change quickly.”

So, when the situation changed rapidly at Pittsburgh and the defending Biletnikoff Award-winning wideout was suddenly on the open market, trust that Riley had an answer at the ready. USC added former Oklahoma wideout Mario Williams earlier in the offseason, one of three transfer wideouts the Trojans had pulled from another Power Five program. But in pursuit of a championship roster, there is no such thing as too many weapons.

On Thursday, Jordan Addison officially announced his intention to transfer to Southern California. A true junior, Addison is expected to play one more season of college ball before jumping to the NFL, where he projects as one of the top draftable wideouts. 

With his commitment, USC has now landed two of the five highest-rated transfer players this offseason. One will catch passes from the other. And that relationship potentially helped open the door to a move out West. 

But make no mistake, the prospect of playing in this offense had to be the deal-breaker. Addison can play with friends at a number of places. He can count on one hand the number of places that offer the opportunity to play in this kind of offense.

At Texas, USC’s rumored competition, the quarterback spot was settled but largely unproven. At USC, there is a star in the making manning the quarterback spot and a coach at the controls who has seen both a passer and a pass-catcher become a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. 

Riley’s offense is wideout-friendly. From 2015 to 2019, his Oklahoma teams produced a 1,000-yard receiver every year. CeeDee Lamb was a consensus All-American. Dede Westbrook—a 6-foot, 178-pound wideout with more similarities than not—won the Biletnikoff in 2016.

Addison will join a USC wideout group that includes Williams, Brenden Rice, Terrell Bynum, Gary Bryant Jr., and Tahj Washington. He’ll immediately become the No. 1 option. 

He entered the transfer portal right before the deadline to maintain immediate eligibility for the 2022 season. His official entry came days after news broke that he’d look to leave the Pitt program. Additional reporting around his departure revealed that Pitt felt USC tampered with its star player.

Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi reportedly called Riley multiple times to voice his displeasure. Addison’s departure ignited a firestorm conversation over the ethical dos and don’ts of a recruiting landscape where transfers were more like free agency and NIL rules were ill-defined and poorly enforced.

But, with a bona fide star available, every team tried to get involved. Addison had interest from Alabama and Texas, among others. And he took his time to come to his decision.

Projected to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Addison already has the production to make his résumé stand out. During the 2021 season, he finished fourth among all FBS wideouts last season with 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns on 100 receptions. He was tied for the FBS lead in touchdown receptions and finished with eight 100-yard games, the second-best season by a Panther wideout in program history.

The 6-foot, 175-pound wideout won the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s most outstanding wide receiver, helping Pitt claim an ACC title. He also earned consensus First Team All-American status, the first sophomore to achieve that since Larry Fitzgerald in 2003.

Most of the time, he was working from the slot. Still, only two guys in the entire country had more contested catches than Addison. One of them just left USC. Only two FBS wideouts produced more first downs. Only eight forced more missed tackles. Addison averaged nearly 7 yards after the catch, a receiver who doesn’t have elite measurables but is still able to separate and cause chaos in space. 

He’s a savvy pass-catcher and a slippery runner.

“If you’re in the city and don’t feel the momentum about this program, you’re not paying attention,” Riley said after the Trojans’ spring game. 

That momentum will only continue to grow after Addison’s commitment.