MY OPINION: THE ADDED REASON WHY JORDAN ADDISON TRANSFERRED FROM PITT; THE ONE NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT
Jordan Addison won the 2021 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top Wide Receiver after leading the Pitt Panthers with 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. On May 3, 2022, Addison entered the Transfer Portal, opening his options for where he will play college football in the 2022 season. When he entered the portal there were rumors that he had already decided he was going to transfer to USC and play for new Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley. According to some reports, Addison considered offers from Alabama and Texas before ultimately proving the rumors correct by deciding to transfer to USC. According to ESPN’s Paolo Uggetti, a source close to the situation stated that Addison could have gotten more money had he chosen to transfer elsewhere. The NIL deal being reported for Addison at USC is said to be in the $2 million range. Some rumors were floating around the internet that big time Texas booster Red McCombs was prepared to offer Addison $5 million, but that rumor has never been verified. Either way, Addison left Pitt for a much larger pay day, but he also has said there’s another reason he left. Football. In Uggetti’s report he says his source stated that “this was more about football than NIL”. The pessimistic fan will roll their eyes at this statement. “C’mon, man, you expect me to believe you’re leaving Pitt for football when you’re getting more money next year than the Steelers’ 2nd round draft pick??” Well, yeah, I’m on board with that, and here’s why. As the source says, it’s about football. Part of football is a business and what you do now in college football will help determine what you get at the next level, not just an NIL deal. Let’s look at Addison’s two seasons at Pitt. Air Raid specialist Mark Whipple was Pitt’s offensive coordinator for both seasons. In his freshman season, Addison caught 60 passes for 666 yards and 4 touchdowns. Last season was his Biletnikoff Award year. He totaled 160 catches for 2,259 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was already being talked about as a potential 1st round NFL draft pick if he chose to leave college after the 2022 season for the NFL. Then a roller coaster of events occurred at Pitt leading us to this point with Jordan Addison. On December 7, 2021, Mark Whipple resigned as offensive coordinator to take the same position at Nebraska. Obviously, a loss for Pitt and Addison as Whipple’s offense helped Pitt win the ACC title in 2021. On December 21, 2021, Kedon Slovis, a highly recruited transfer from USC signed with Pitt. A huge get for Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi as Slovis is a tremendous quarterback. On December 31, 2021, Wide Receiver coach Brennan Marion left Pitt to take over the receivers at the University of Texas. Addison’s position coach leaving is a huge loss as Marion and Addison were said to have had a great relationship. Marion is the reason Addison took an official visit to Texas before choosing to go to USC. On January 21, 2022, Pat Narduzzi hired his new offensive coordinator. After seeing the success Kenny Pickett and players like Addison had with Whipple as the offensive coordinator, Coach Narduzzi decides “we want to establish the run more”. So that offensive coordinator was hired on January 21, 2022, Frank Cignetti, Jr. Cignetti was the offensive coordinator at Boston College in 2021 where his leading receiver was Zay Flowers who had 44 catches for 746 yards and 5 touchdowns. Former Pine-Richland High School star, and Notre Dame transfer quarterback, Phil Jurkovec, is the starting quarterback at Boston College. He played 5 games for BC last season before suffering a season-ending injury in that fifth game against Wake Forest.
To put the difference of offenses in perspective, Jurkovec’s passing ATTEMPTS in those first five games: 4 against UMASS, 13 against Virginia Tech, 20 against Georgia Tech, 24 against Florida State and 11 in the game he was injured against Wake Forest. That’s a total of just 96 attempts. In comparison, Kenny Pickett threw more than 96 passes in Pitt’s first three games. The only game Pickett didn’t have at least 30 attempts was against New Hampshire when was pulled after completing 24 of 28 passes for 403 yards, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in a blow-out win. Let’s get back to Addison now. Under Whipple in an Air Raid offense, he has 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. His head coach comes out to introduce the new offensive coordinator and says he wants to establish the run more and hires an OC whose top receiver has about half of the catches and yards than Addison did the year before and only a third of the touchdowns. Estimating numbers, by season’s end Addison would be looking at being a mid to late 2nd round pick at best. His talents are not in question, however, there are many teams who run a variation of the Air Raid offense who have very talented receivers. The stats alone don’t tell the story, but they really do enhance it. And to see Addison’s stats all cut roughly in half in Cignetti’s offense would gravely endanger his chances of being drafted in the first round. So, let’s circle back to a couple of things here. First, there is a part of football that is business, it’s a reality that most people don’t like to admit to but it’s there. And second, that comment again. “This was more about football than NIL”. Why in the world would Addison want to stay at Pitt knowing they’re intending on running the football more which will cut his touches and hurt his draft status? Addison is a phenomenal receiver and someone with his talents can be even better if given the chance. But having your quarterback hand the ball off 40-45 times per game so you can control the clock and play field position offense will not help Jordan Addison get drafted in the first round. No matter how sore Pitt fans are at him for leaving, you can’t fault the kid for wanting to have that same feeling that Kenny Pickett just had being drafted in the first round and getting that first round money. You see, that NIL money he’s getting at USC is great, far greater than Pitt probably could’ve come up with. But there is more to his decision than just the NIL money. It’s the difference between making first round NFL draft pick money as opposed to mid to late second round NFL draft pick money. To maintain that draft status Addison needs to get the ball, a lot. And to get the ball in a similar manner as he did in 2021. And to do that he would need an offensive coordinator who likes to throw the ball. And, unfortunately for Pitt and its fans, they no longer have that. There very well may have been tampering by USC, I’m sure nobody will ever really know the truth on that. But Lincoln Riley has a history of putting quarterbacks and wide receivers into the NFL, particularly in the first round of the draft. It’s a no brainer for Addison, who has to look out for his future, and that future more than likely will be in the NFL. I wish him luck and hope he gets all he wants out of USC so that next April I can hear his name called in the first round as he deserves to. And to Pitt fans, I said before that I don’t think Pitt could match any NIL money that USC could offer, but if Narduzzi would have hired the right offensive coordinator, a pass heavy coordinator, I really think Addison stays at Pitt. With the right OC his numbers won’t suffer as much as they would have in their current offense and his draft stock doesn’t fall. Sometimes coaches have to go away from their comfort zone to be successful. When Pat Narduzzi hired Mark Whipple he did just that, and Pitt won the ACC Championship during that time. Even Nick Saban adjusted with how college football is played today. Like Pat Narduzzi, Saban is also a defensive coach. And he realized that he needed to change his ways if he wanted to be successful in today’s college football. He hired Lane Kiffin to be his OC and revamped the Alabama offense. Now, three OC’s later, Alabama is annually one of the best offenses in the country. Unfortunately for Pitt, when it came time to hire a new OC Coach, Narduzzi wanted to go back to the Boring Ten, Control the Clock, Field Position, run, run, pass, punt offense. And in doing so he lost the best player he had on his offense. You can have all the sour grapes you want for what Lincoln Riley may or may not have done in this situation, but you only have yourself to blame for losing Jordan Addison. “This was more about football than NIL”. If Pitt was going to play the style of football he excelled in, I believe Jordan Addison would still be a Pitt Panther. Good luck, Jordan, I can’t wait to see how you do in the Lincoln Riley offense, and where that leads you into the 2023 NFL Draft.