Jordan Addison first saw the news on social media.
Not only has the potential transfer of the reigning Biletnikoff Prize winner exploded online, but it has also been accompanied by additional controversy. ESPN reported on April 29 that Addison was considering USC as a destination before officially entering the portal. Pittsburgh officials shouted “tampering.”
Pitt’s trainer, Pat Narduzzi, placed several frustrated calls to USC’s Lincoln Riley. Critics questioned whether Addison was selling herself for name, image and likeness deals.
Three months and a new school later, Addison, sporting a freshly pressed USC jersey, had a simple answer.
“Just some BS,” Addison said Thursday, meeting local media for the first time since transferring to USC. “But I mean, the truth is always going to come out, so I’m just making sure I’m going to keep working and making sure I’m ready for the season.”
“I wasn’t coming here for all the lights and the camera and the action and all that. I just wanted to make sure they knew I was being strictly professional.
The 6-foot junior had 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on a school-record 100 catches last season, earning the Biletnikoff Award honoring the nation’s most outstanding receiver.
Such proven talent rarely enters the transfer portal, adding another layer of suspicion to Addison’s decision. But it came down to a simple hunch, Addison said.
While many critics focused on rumors of multimillion-dollar NIL opportunities, Addison was in touch with USC’s coaching staff during his recruiting visit during lengthy movie sessions. Addison and Riley spent so much time talking about football that they skipped superfluous recruiting rituals like fancy meals or planned entertainment.
“I wasn’t coming here for all the lights and the camera and the action and all that stuff,” Addison said. “I just wanted to make sure they knew I was strictly professional.”
Addison said he didn’t feel the need to contact Narduzzi to respond to the charges, but added he was grateful the staff allowed him to start his college career at Pitt. Asked if he was disappointed that the speculation was a bittersweet final note to his accomplished career at Pitt, Addison shrugged.
“They say it’s a business,” he said, “so sometimes you have to make decisions for yourself.”
Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons said he fears the controversy will cause friction in USC’s program. Simmons said when the reports surfaced he called all the players in his position room and explained he hadn’t spoken to Addison yet and wasn’t sure the best prospect was transferred to USC.
“When you attack someone’s character and integrity, especially when you’re supposed to be a mentor or a caregiver, of course you get hurt,” Simmons said. “I’m really trying not to dwell on his past with him, from that point of view, just because at this point what good is going to come of it? I don’t know his former head coach, I don’t relationship with him. He’s here now, and I’m just letting him know how we feel about him.
USC teammates couldn’t hide their excitement about the top receiver burning the field during the summer and player-led practices. Running back Travis Dye joked that he saw smoke coming out of Addison’s shoes when players were running sprints and Addison was measured at nearly 23 mph.
“Jordan Addison is a freak of nature,” said Dye, an Oregon transfer. “This 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 slick.
Addison entered the USC media day event on campus wearing a No. 3 jersey, the same number he wore at Pitt. The jersey was retired at USC in honor of quarterback Carson Palmer, but the Heisman winner gave Addison his blessing to sport the number he’s worn since high school.
Being on the phone with Palmer was nerve-wracking, Addison said, but he was quick to note his appreciation for the gesture.
“I’m just going to make sure he knows he put the number on the right person,” Addison said.
Writer J. Brady McCollough contributed to this report.