Why Jordan Addison made the right decision committing to USC - and what he will bring to the Trojans
Updated: May 19, 2022
The Jordan Addison saga has gripped the entire college football world. Last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner chose to leave behind the Pitt Panthers for his third college season. As a Penn Stater, the whole thing is quite funny, but it did show just how fickle college football is under the current rules.
Addison surely could've gone anywhere once he entered the portal. He’s an elite route runner with a true knack for getting open on all three levels and across the entire route tree. His hands aren’t elite, but they’re good enough, and he would have been, in my opinion, a top-15 pick in last month’s draft.
Naturally, the sport’s best and, more importantly, richest and most prestigious, programs want Addison. He narrowed his visits to Texas, Alabama, and the school with whom he was rumored to have a deal in place when the story broke, USC.
And on Thursday afternoon, in the midst of the Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher hubbub (maybe not coincidentally) he chose to be a Trojan!
It was really the only choice that made sense.
Going through his other options, Texas just never seemed like a real option to me. I’m a big believer in Steve Sarkisian, and maybe that’s the 2000s kid inside me wishing for Texas to be good again. But it never made sense for Jordan Addison to risk everything on an uncertain QB situation (Hudson Card and Quinn Ewers will battle for the job in fall camp) and a program that cannot get out of its own way in the last decade. If it’s all about money, both NIL and future NFL money, you have to point out that Texas had zero players drafted in the 2022 NFL draft, a truly incredible stat. A stat that is even more damning, they haven’t had a single offensive player taken in the first round since Vince Young in 2006. I think it’s basically impossible to fail at Texas, but people keep doing it, and Addison needs to stay far away.
That brings me to Alabama.
Putting aside the craziness of the last few days, it's funny to look back at Nick Saban’s first title at Alabama and reminisce on the ball control offense led by Greg McElroy under center, (literally under center, as they went into the shotgun sparingly) and fast forward to now, where they are the best producer of high end wide receiver picks of any team in the sport, bar none. They’ve had eight wide receivers go in the first round since 2011, including five in the last three years. Heisman trophy Bryce Young is back at quarterback, too, and the offense expects to be even better this year with a more experienced group up front than last year. They did bring in some other receivers into the program via the portal but none of them are Addison. It’s also Tuscaloosa, one of the great pure college towns in America, with girls that love football as much as anything other than Jesus and their sorority letters, and a fan base that treats their players, win or lose, incredibly well.
So why not go play for Nick Saban and Alabama? Most of the reason why I think he shouldn’t is because I think so highly of USC as an option. But, there are a few reasons why I think Alabama itself isn’t right for him. The first, and biggest, is that the SEC West is very different from the dreadful, barely even Power 5 football, ACC Coastal. What if Addison benefitted from playing weak competition at Pitt? What if his prodigious route running skills and knack for getting open didn't end up as elite against bigger, stronger, faster and more prepared defensive backs in the SEC? Addison probably thinks he would fare just fine, and he very well may, but it would be a risk.
Which takes me to USC…
Yes, I did say back in the fall on aarontorresonline.com that USC was a better job than LSU, and you could call me a USC fanboy, even though I’ve watched in the Rose Bowl twice as they beat Penn State. What I will admit about my feelings on USC is that I think it is the absolute best place in America to be a star college football player. There’s something about Los Angeles that makes you feel like you’re truly in the center of the sports and entertainment world when you’re there. Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush showed this during their mid-2000s run with the Trojans. Seemingly every week Leinart had another model or actress on his arm, and Bush and Leinart were frequently rubbing elbows with A-listers.
This is the life that awaits Jordan Addison at USC. There is plenty of NIL money, much more than the general perception you’d get looking at the sometimes sparse and almost always mundane crowds at the Los Angeles Coliseum. I’d expect the compensation package at USC to be plenty adequate, if that was all, or part of his decision. And, he will have plenty of places to spend that money, networking with some of the world’s biggest players in the entertainment, sports and other industries. He will be surrounded on campus with incredibly connected and wealthy students; they don’t call it University of Spoiled Children for nothing. It’s a great long-term choice for his financial future.
And, if things do go poorly at USC, he will still be able to get lunch without getting heckled. People in Los Angeles will simply stop caring. If they win, you’re the talk of the town, sports royalty in a very underrated sports town if you’re winning. If you bring USC football back to where it should be, you’ll be talked about forever like Palmer and Bush and Allen. At Alabama, you’re just another cog in Saban’s machine.
Ultimately, though, it’s about football. For all the trouble USC has had winning a lot of football games consistently since the departure of Pete Carroll, it’s not difficult to win there. Even Clay Helton, not exactly known to be the next Vince Lombardi, won 70% of his conference games and had 10-3, 11-3 and 5-1 seasons for the Trojans. Lincoln Riley is a very significant upgrade. Don’t listen to bitter Oklahoma fans who saw the star pupil move to the big city and got jealous, the guy can flat coach.
The idea he piggybacked on Bob Stoops’ success is nonsense.
Oklahoma was starting to lose some luster until Stoops hired Riley to be his offensive coordinator in 2015. Oklahoma has had prodigious offenses every year since, and Riley didn’t skip a beat when he became head coach in Norman in 2017. Riley isn’t as pass-heavy as people may think, but it’s certainly an air raid attack with a lot of variation of the route tree and plenty of targets for a true number one receiver like Ceedee Lamb and Hollywood Brown. He hasn’t necessarily had that at OU the last few years, and Spencer Rattler imploding set the offense back, but he’s one of the top, if not the top, offensive minds in college football. He brings Caleb Williams with him from Oklahoma, and the former top-ranked quarterback in the 2021 class showed why he got that ranking for Oklahoma last year when he led a heroic comeback against Texas.
USC has a track record of putting receivers in the first round. Drake London just went in the top ten last month, Nelson Algohor also has gone in the first round in the last decade, and they have multiple 2nd-rounders in that timeframe as well. Addison is going to get a lot of targets in that system, against bad players in the PAC-12 South that may somehow be worse than the ACC Coastal, and put up huge numbers.
He’s unfortunate that he couldn’t enter into the draft this past draft with the three-year rule, but USC, to me, has the best chance to preserve and amplify his draft stock going into the 2023 NFL draft.
Congrats to the Trojans. They got a good one in Jordan Addison.
Follow Garrett Carr on Twitter - @RealGarrettCarr