It’s Full Steam Ahead For USC Football

Lincoln Riley isn’t altering transfer portal recruiting that irked Pat Narduzzi

Ryan Kartje (LA Times —  Since he was first handed the reins of a USC roster in desperate need of a rebuild, Lincoln Riley was clear about his intentions regarding the NCAA transfer portal. He planned to use it voraciously, turning over nearly half the program by mining the portal like arguably no coach has before.

“I’d say we’re open for business on all accounts,” Riley declared in December.

He has essentially cornered the transfer market since, reeling in 15 new USC players, including two in the past week alone. But Riley’s aggressive approach amid the changing marketplace has also ruffled feathers, first across the state of Oklahoma and now in Western Pennsylvania, where the potential transfer of college football’s top receiver has sparked accusations of tampering.

Jordan Addison had yet to enter the portal when ESPN reported Friday night that the All-American receiver was mulling the possibility of leaving Pittsburgh for USC. The scenario was apparently dire enough to Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi that he called Riley multiple times Friday to express his discontent. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh officials told ESPN and the Athletic they suspected USC had tampered with their star receiver.

USC officials wouldn’t comment on the accusations. Addison has until Sunday to decide whether he’ll officially enter the transfer portal. If he does, the intrigue surrounding USC’s likely pursuit of the top receiver is sure to deepen further.

The initial connection between Addison and USC, according to a person familiar with the situation not authorized to speak publicly about it, stems from a prior relationship with Caleb Williams, the Trojans new quarterback, who also hails from the Washington D.C. area. It’s not uncommon for other college football players to try and convince their peers to transfer. That, on its face, doesn’t constitute tampering.

Similar accusations from fans across Oklahoma followed Williams on his way to USC. The sophomore quarterback entered the transfer portal a month after Riley left Oklahoma, only to join Riley at USC a month after that. Two other Sooners also followed, leaving many in the state upset with Riley’s transfer recruiting tactics.

“We didn’t take players from Oklahoma, we took players from the transfer portal,” Riley said in a February radio interview with Colin Cowherd, rankling fans even further. “Once a player gets in a portal and they are open to any school in the country, we would be crazy to not look at it and now help our football team.”

If he does enter the portal, there are few receivers in the nation capable of aiding an offense more than Addison. As a sophomore, he caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and a nation-leading 17 touchdowns on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top wideout.

Receiver isn’t an immediate need for USC after a strong spring at the position. The Trojans have already added three transfer receivers through the portal in Mario Williams, Brenden Rice and Terrell Bynum. But they would happily accept another if Addison, one of the top playmakers in college football, becomes available.

Riley has promised that plenty more transfers will be added ahead of the fall. Already this week, USC has secured a freshman All-American linebacker in Eric Gentry (9) from Arizona State, as well as Ohio State safety Bryson Shaw, who finished third on the Buckeyes defense in tackles in 2021. Both could play major roles next season.

Hovering around 75 scholarship players, USC can afford to add at pretty much any position. The Trojans had just two scholarship quarterbacks and three running backs in the spring. It has limited depth on its offensive or defensive lines. Its secondary was down to just four healthy cornerbacks by the end of the spring and four of its five rush linebackers moved from different positions ahead of spring.

“There’s not a position on defense where we wouldn’t entertain the opportunity, at minimum in the name of competition and in other scenarios an opportunity to see the field right away,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “It’s an opportunity that wasn’t presented to us in years past, so we’ll be active.”

Could that include the pursuit of a certain All-American receiver? Perhaps. But beyond another top talent emerging unexpectedly, USC won’t add just anyone through the portal.

“The team, all of us, everybody is very aware we need to add some roster spots. It’s obvious, there’s no two ways about it,” Riley said this spring. “They’re going to be vetted by our staff. They’re going to be vetted by our current players. We’re looking for guys who are going to come in and add to that culture.”

latimes.com

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Trojan5
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Trojan5(@trojan5)
May 2, 2022 7:39 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I love pronouncements like this. They say nothing and promise something at the same time. If anything happens Colin can take credit and say I told you so. And if nothing out of the ordinary happens he can count on the reality that none of us will remember his all knowing pronouncement from May 2, 2022. But when he has to fill 4 hours of radio 5 days a week not everything Colin says can be expected to be pithy. And I say this as a guy who watches the Herd as often as I can.

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
May 2, 2022 8:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

What could it be we won’t believe it but it makes sense? USC leaving the Pathetic 12 and along with UCLA, joining the Big Ten making it a coast to coast conference? Or the SEC? This is the University of “Southern” California. Or go independent with a TV contract in its hip pocket? Who knows what Cowherd thinks he knows.

Trojan5
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Trojan5(@trojan5)
May 2, 2022 6:47 pm

I may be kicking a hornets nest. But anyone have any ideas why none of the reporters, bloggers and websites that follow SC football have not listed a single name of any player that entered the portal by May 1. I know that official processing and notification of portal entrants takes a little time. Even so , don’t you think one of the reporters would have had at least one
player tell them they had entered the portal.?

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 3, 2022 10:51 am
Reply to  Trojan5

I go to 247Sports, they have the latest portal entries, here’s the link:

https://247sports.com/college/football/recruiting/Season/2022-Football/TransferPortal/

Trojan5
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Trojan5(@trojan5)
May 3, 2022 11:43 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Thanks GT. I look at 247/Rivals & ON3 and they usually have a lot of good info.. As of this morning not a single listing of Trojans who have entered the portal. I am sure we will hear soon enough, but is just seems odd that no names have been reported yet.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 3, 2022 12:22 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

Since schools have 2 days to process the paperwork they may not show up on a web site till tonight or tomorrow morning. Addison should make headlines as soon as it goes through the portal.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 3, 2022 12:23 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

speaking of which, I just refreshed 247 and Addison is up there!

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 3, 2022 12:25 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Hilarious, Addison, awarded the best WR in College Football is rated a 4*!

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
May 3, 2022 2:50 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, I think you have nailed it. The kids still in the program want a piece of the action. And, they are getting first class coaching and first class competition and first class accountability for the first time in each’s time at SC. They are going to give it their all to stick with this team. After all, SC has one of the two best QBs in college ball. The only other QB at Caleb’s level is the soph at tOSU (Stroud). This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. The kids get to find out just how good they… Read more »

Trojan5
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Trojan5(@trojan5)
May 3, 2022 5:11 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Just checked 247sports—-Elijah Winston now listed in the portal.

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
May 6, 2022 2:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Sensing we may have seen the best of what the Portal will offer until the season is over, for Riley it might be about dealing with depth issues with 2nd/3rd string ability players looking to hook up with a name program that will give them playing time. It gets tricky now who you bring in that you might be able to develop some overachiever to at least hold his own?

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 2, 2022 8:22 am

According to BroBible, Pitt has 2 days to file the paperwork. So Addison could appear in the Portal as late as tomorrow night. Then the bidding will start at $2 million+ for his service. USC, Alabama and Pitt in the hunt.

https://brobible.com/sports/article/jordan-addison-pittsburgh-nil-transfer-usc-kentucky/

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan(@rialtotrojan)
May 2, 2022 10:31 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

So Wednesday morning the narrative will be about Riley accusing Pitt of interference because they closed their office early or the team took Addison out to paint the town red on Sunday evening.
I’ve made this joke on a couple of less serious blogs, but here I doubt that Riley has done anything other than play by the rules (as lose as they may seem to be) If he doesn’t know better than to not get “caught” breaking the rules, he’s in the wrong building.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
May 2, 2022 10:41 am
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

Rialto, My guess is that Addison hired an agent and the agent, not the kid, has been shopping him. Coaches do this all the time. Are you telling me that a coach does not want to be contacted for a better job? They do this by using agents. Why shouldn’t the players have the same ability to shop markets for better money as the coaches do? If I have this right, Narduzzi has zero legs to stand on. If Narduzzi has any brains, he will let the kid go. If he gets into a bidding war, it will destroy his… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 2, 2022 1:55 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

I believe Slovis got a NIL deal in Pittsburgh maybe his girlfriend as well (she is on the soccer team).
From what I read coaches can’t recruit a player to transfer but other players and anyone else outside the university can. Certainly a Bilitnekoff winner is going to have an agent shop around.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
May 2, 2022 8:32 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Poor little gutty, she thought she had the race in the bag! Fight On Jan’Taijah Ford!

TrojanRJJ
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Mt Rushmore
TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
May 2, 2022 10:35 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, I first wonder where the money is coming from? I have not heard that SC has a NIL PAC like other schools. Have you heard anything? My guess is Addison hired an agent who shopped for him. And, my guess is the NIL money is coming from companies that are national brands. If I have this right, SC is a much better brand than Pitt and in a much larger market. Thus, for a marketer, you would want to pay for the kid to be associated with the est brand in a market which makes the most sense to… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
May 1, 2022 6:10 pm

Sure Jordan Addison gained notoriety & success playing on the Pitt team last season. He has been growing in accomplishment the last season & a half. But when you lose your QB, your OC & position coach and you the star are not comfortable with their replacements, does Pitt HC Narduzzi really think this is about USC tampering with his star receiver or is he Narduzzi unable to keep Addison concerned this next season might be a bust at Pitt? This is as much about he & Addison as it is anything else. If Riley wasn’t using the Portal aggressively,… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Jamaica
Trojan5
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Trojan5(@trojan5)
May 1, 2022 7:06 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

Good evening Jamaica. Narduzzi is definitely not the only coach complaining about the portal and more importantly tampering. I have hear numerous coaches, reporters and former players say that behind the scenes everybody is talking about the portal. They all think it is out of control but they know if they do no t work the portal their program is going to be left behind. You are right, Narduzzi is experiencing sour grapes. But he is one of the few coaches whose complaining has been made public. The portal is the wild Wild West.