It's been nearly three weeks since reports first surfaced suggesting that Pittsburgh star receiver Jordan Addison might be looking to transfer, and that USC would be his likely destination. The time since Addison officially entered the transfer portal has served to muddy the waters a bit as Alabama and Texas are among those who have entered the picture in recruiting the Biletnikoff Award winner who caught 100 passes for the Panthers last season.
But with Addison's decision reportedly expected in "the coming days," one factor stands out above the rest in projecting where Addison will end up: his relationship with USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Of foremost importance in the quality of a wide receiver's experience at any level of football is comfort with the person throwing them the football. In the case of Addison, there is little doubt that USC is in a better position than Alabama and Texas because of that dynamic.
While Texas boasts one of the highest-rated quarterback prospects of all-time in Quinn Ewers, and Addison trained some with Alabama quarterback Bryce Young recently out in California, according to The Athletic, there appears to be a unique depth to his relationship with Williams. Both are from the Washington D.C. area, and Williams has already gone on record predicting Addison will land with the Trojans.
Other factors at work
Beyond the quarterback-wide receiver relationship, a dynamic of similar significance for a player of Addison's caliber in choosing a destination should be comfort with the coaching staff. Texas' hiring of Brennan Marion, who served s Pitt's receivers coach last season, may appear to be a leg up for the Longhorns in that regard.
But as Chip Brown of Horns247 noted Thursday, the receivers coach who recruited Addison to Pittsburgh and coached him during his freshman season, Chris Beatty, is now in Los Angeles on staff with the Chargers in the NFL. Further, if Addison's connection with Williams is as strong as it appears, then Williams can vouch for the merits of playing for USC coach Lincoln Riley.
When Williams transferred following his standout freshman season at Oklahoma in 2021, he could have gone anywhere he wanted. He chose to follow Riley to USC, and he's surely offered a glowing recommendation of Riley and receiver coach Dennis Simmons as he pitches Addison on the move.
But the entire saga surrounding Addison's decision to transfer has been one giant unexpected twist in the college football offseason, and until he announces it himself, nothing is a sure bet.
Texas visit not enough to sway Addison
Given his relationship with Marion, it makes sense that Texas got a visit from Addison. The Longhorns have an offense-friendly head coach in Steve Sarkisian and the financial backing to compete for Addison in the name, image and likeness realm. By all accounts, the Longhorns rolled out the red carpet for the star receiver.
"I don't think Texas could have done much more to persuade Addison and the Horns seemed to have an extremely cohesive pitch that was very aggressive which was good to see for future big-time recruitments," Horns247 analyst Hudson Standish wrote.
But as Brown noted, it would have to be considered an upset if the Longhorns landed Addison. There was a reason for all the initial buzz surrounding USC, and the other schools involved in Addison's recruitment appear to be fighting an uphill battle against Addison's relationship with Williams and desire to be a Trojan.