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Column: Should Ohio State pursue transfer wide receiver Jordan Addison?

Rumor has it Addison is waiting to hear from Ohio State. We take a look at how the former Biletnikoff Award winner would fit in the loaded Buckeye receiver room.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Michigan State at Pittsburgh Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 offseason took a huge turn when reports came out that University of Pittsburgh receiver Jordan Addison was going to announce that he was transferring to USC. After allegations of tampering and major discourse in the college football community, Addison officially put his name into the portal. In 2021, Addison won the Biletnikoff Trophy — awarded to the best receiver in college football — after recording 100 receptions, 1,593 yards, and 17 touchdowns last season.

With that hardware to his name, Addison became one of the most notable players to ever hit the transfer portal, and arguably the most valuable non-quarterback since the portal started in April 2021. This has brought in a list of top schools including USC, Texas, and Alabama to all vie for his transfer commitment. Despite USC being the early frontrunner, the additional blue bloods involved have extended this recruitment, and there is no definitive timetable in place for his decision which may have gained another factor.

Earlier in the week, the Texas pay site OrangeBloods wrote a piece detailing the current state of Addison’s recruitment and how the receiver was potentially waiting to hear from Ohio State before he makes a final decision. There is no guarantee that this report has legs, but this would explain a lot of the delay on this. Addison is not going to take his final season before entering the draft lightly. And for the Buckeyes, this would add another dynamic receiver with experience and bring a proven commodity into the room. But this could also lead to some interesting dynamics in that room, as well as amongst the fans.

The reality of the situation is this could all be a bunch of rumor mill nothingness, but this could also mean that Ohio State is exhausting at all options to make the team is its best possible version.

In his tenure, Ryan Day has been extremely selective on the players he has brought in, only bringing in players he knew would definitively help the team. Under Day the Buckeyes have been on both sides of the transfer market, bringing in players at positions of need while also losing quite a few potential contributors.

Bringing in Justin Fields was the most notable, but additions like Jonah Jackson and Trey Sermon show that Ohio State is always looking to improve the roster. Already in this offseason, the Buckeyes brought in former Oklahoma State safety Tanner McAlister to fortify and bring experience to the secondary.

What all four of the transfers have in common is the fact they were all positions that had major needs. Jackson, Sermon, and McAlister all brought high level Power-5 conference experience. When we look at the big splash transfers, Jordan Addison fits that profile with an even better resume than any of the transfers Ohio State has brought in. Looking deeper at these players, they also came into rooms with limited returning production.

Jackson came into an offensive line that was limited on the experience front outside of Wyatt Davis and Thayer Munford. Jackson filled the experience void, bringing in a ready made talent to bridge the gap for the young offensive linemen. Sermon came into a running back room that had just lost J.K. Dobbins to the NFL. Overall, the need for experience plus talent adds an interesting dynamic to the transfer fit of Addison.

There have been other transfers, but these high profile transfer scenarios best represent the types of additions Ohio State is looking for in the portal to maximize their championship windows. As a program with national title contention on their mind every season, this is the type of player that even if just for one season, he makes the team better.

Earlier in the offseason, reports were Ohio State was not going to pursue Elias Ricks due to confidence in the young depth to the ire of some of the Buckeye faithful. A major difference in the scenarios: Ricks came with concerns not associated with Addison. This means if the Buckeyes were to pursue Addison, they’d be saying the talent Addison brings outweighs the risk of losing the talent in the room.

Now even the most bullish people when it comes to the potential Ohio State’s young receivers know that Addison is not just any other receiver transfer, and would make an immediate impact on the room.

Brian Hartline has recruited the wide receiver position better than anyone in the country, giving Ohio State plenty of potential options to replace two first rounders in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. With the recruiting rankings aside, the receiver room next Jaxon Smith-Njigba – who had 95 receptions, 1,606 yards, and 9 touchdowns – is not a proven commodity. Despite the high recruiting rankings, most of the other receivers are relative unknowns.

Ohio State Receivers vs. Jordan Addison

Player Recruiting Ranking Reception Yards Touchdowns
Player Recruiting Ranking Reception Yards Touchdowns
*Julian Fleming 3 (0.9979) 19 160 1
Emeka Egbuka 10 (0.9945) 9 191 0
Marvin Harrison Jr. 97 (0.9583) 11 139 3
Jayden Ballard 99 (0.9580) 1 4 0
*Jordan Addison 275 (0.9044) 160 2259 21
*Denotes two seasons played

This is not to say that they can’t become the next line of great receivers at Ohio State, but college football teams are built on maximizing value as well as minimizing risk. We all saw Marvin Harrison Jr. against Utah in the Rose Bowl with his three touchdowns, so there are two players you feel you can for sure trust. Emeka Egbuka had a great game against Akron and proved himself as a return man. Fleming has flashed his athleticism and the coaches believe that when he is healthy he can be a difference maker, but he has been injured most of his career at Ohio State.

The main questions aren’t the players’ ceilings, because we just can’t know in the moment what those are exactly. What we do know is this group has combined for 490 yards in limited action. Ryan Day has stated he wants at minimum a five man rotation. If one of those players either gets injured or doesn’t perform to the now established level, there needs to be an answer. Thats is why there is space for both belief in the current room and the addition of an elite, proven receiver.

Addison has proven that he can be a definitive number one target, and pairing him up with Jaxon Smith-Njigba would take the offense to another level. Teams would be less willing to challenge two receivers of that caliber with proven track records. Looking at the stats, Addison would bring immediate stability and production to the room on top of the potential talent.

Even with the potential to ruffle feathers in the receiver room, Addison would not change the dynamic of the room as much as some people are worried about.

Now this is far from a definitive deal and most of the conversation surrounding Addison has been speculation (including him leaving Pitt for USC), but when you see smoke there’s usually fire. The easy way to look at this is with the idea that if Ohio State brings in Jordan Addison some of the receivers would transfer. The reason I don’t buy into that line of thinking is because after Smith-Njigba there is still a lot of youthfulness.

The main potential ramification would be losing trust in the room, which is a major concern when it comes to roster management in the NIL era. That is a major reason Addison left Pitt to begin with. Even with Addison added in the room there will be plenty of snaps to go around, as their are not two incumbent multi-year starters in the way of getting on the field. This means the coaching staff will have to field more opportunities to see exactly what they have in the players in the room.

Even if Addison may ruffle some feathers initially, the goal has always been to win a national title. He brings the type of talent that can solidify the room. If Ohio State has the opportunity to bring him in, that is a player who will limit the growing pains and take a lot of pressure off guys getting their first real game reps. The reward he brings is greater than the risk. By raising the floor of the room it makes everybody better, and if he is only WR3 like some people have said online, that means Ohio State has three of the best receivers in the country just like last season.

Looking around the country, teams are always looking to improve their roster, but not every school has the same ability to make major noise like the Buckeyes. As a team who wants to win a national championship, there should never be a stone left unturned when it comes to talent accumulation.

Look at last season. The most notable transfer player in college football was former Buckeye Jameson Williams, who was debatably the best receiver in the country before his injury. Alabama did not win a national championship last year, but without Williams they wouldn’t have even sniffed the opportunity. This year Alabama has already went into the portal adding three offensive players in Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), Jermaine Burton (Georgia), and Tyler Harrell (Louisville) – all this and they’re still going after Addison.

Now Ohio State does not need to involve themselves in every single thing Alabama does, but as one of the few teams the Buckeyes can look at as a recruiting rival, this shows that talent accumulation should never stop. This is not a conversation that ends with Addison, either. If the Buckeyes want to compete for a national championships, eliminating any question marks is the best way to do that. Bringing in Addison is not only reasonable, but should be a legitimate goal even if you believe in the players in the room.

In the end, the Buckeyes may not need Addison when it is all said and done, but the idea that Ohio State is better off with out him is ludicrous. When you can bring in players with his pedigree and track record off the field, you have to at least pick up the phone. That is because Addison is the type of player who can be the difference in another good year and a national championship.