LOS ANGELES (BVM) – It’s not every day the top wide receiver in college football decides to leave their program, but that is just what happened when former University of Pittsburgh wideout Jordan Addison announced his intention to transfer to USC on Thursday. The move will have a large ripple effect in the NCAA landscape as the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner joins a newly stacked USC team that has added head coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams from Oklahoma in the offseason.
— Jordan Addison (@Espn_Jordan) May 19, 2022
While Addison’s move isn’t necessarily unprecedented, it is rare. With the transfer portal being a newer idea, not many top–flight receivers have had the opportunity to jump from one program to another and excel effectively, though it has happened. Here are the top 10 WR transfers in college football history.
Editor’s Note; Due to the lack of big–name transfers since the start of the transfer portal, this list will include college athletes who have transferred from the JUCO level to the Division I level as well. While some of these players had professional success, this list will focus strictly on their success collegiately.
- Randy Moss, Notre Dame to Florida State to Marshall (1996)
Despite off-the-field concerns, Moss became one of the most electric players in college football history at Marshall as he recorded 174 catches, 3,529 receiving yards and 55 total touchdowns in two seasons in Huntington as he earned the 1997 Fred Biletnikoff Award for best receiver in college football and was named a finalist for the 1997 Heisman Trophy.
- Keyshawn Johnson, West Los Angeles College to USC (1994)
After excelling at West Los Angeles College his sophomore year, Johnson earned an opportunity to play at USC where he would dominate over two seasons. During his two years with the Trojans, Johnson caught 168 passes for 2,796 yards and 16 touchdowns in 31 games and was a unanimous first-team All-American in 1995 while helping the team win the 1996 Rose Bowl.
- Dede Westbrook, Blinn College to Oklahoma (2015)
Westbrook came to Oklahoma after going to Blinn College as a freshman where he recorded 1,471 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Westbrook exploded on the scene in 2016 as Baker Mayfield’s top target, catching 80 passes for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns. He would be named the Biletnikoff Award winner, a unanimous first-team All-American and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
- David Williams, Los Angeles Harbor College to Illinois (1983)
After a Junior College All-American season as a freshman at Los Angeles Harbor College, Williams would simply rewrite the record books at Illinois finishing his career with 262 receptions for 3,392 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches, all still program records. He would be named a consensus first-team All-American in both 1984 and 1985 and finished his career as the second leading receiver in NCAA history.
- Jameson Williams, Ohio State to Alabama (2021)
Williams became an elite wideout for the Crimson Tide after leaving the crowded wide receiver room at Ohio State. After recording just 15 catches for 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns over two years at Ohio State, Williams burst onto the scene with Alabama, recording 79 receptions for 1,572 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches on his way to being named a first-team All-American and the SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Year.
- Marquise Brown, College of the Canyons to Oklahoma (2017)
Brown would enroll at College of the Canyons and garner national attention before joining the team at Oklahoma. Uniting with quarterback Kyler Murray, Brown would record back-to-back 1,000–yard seasons en route to 132 receptions for 2,413 yards and 13 touchdowns in 25 games with the Sooners over two years. Brown would earn first-team All-American honors in 2018 for his effort.
- Jason Phillips, Taft Junior College to Houston (1987)
Phillips was an all-conference QB as a freshman for Taft before moving into a wide receiver role his sophomore year. Fortunately, Phillips’ athleticism jumped out on film and he would transfer to Houston where he would excel finishing his Cougars career with 207 catches for 2,319 yards and 18 touchdowns over two seasons, including leading the nation with 108 catches, 1,444 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns as a senior. That season, he would earn first-team All-American honors.
- Jordan Addison, Pitt to USC (2022)
After catching 160 passes for 2,259 yards and 21 touchdown catches over two seasons with Pitt, Addison will bring his talent with him to Los Angeles and USC. With 100 catches, 1,593 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns just last year for the Panthers, Addison will be an explosive addition to the USC offense and likely is the most impactful non-QB transfer of this offseason.
- Josh Doctson, Wyoming to TCU (2013)
Doctson started his career with the Wyoming Cowboys in 2011. After sitting out a year due to the NCAA’s transfer policy, Doctson came to the Horned Frogs and was a strong player in three years with the team, recording 179 catches for 2,785 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. Doctson’s best season would be his last as he caught 79 passes for 1,327 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns en route to consensus first-team All-American honors.
- Steve Smith Sr., Santa Monica College to Utah (1999)
After a great career at Santa Monica College, Smith would go to Utah where he recorded 78 catches for 1,603 receiving yards and 12 touchdown catches in two seasons with the Utes. A dangerous return man, Smith would also record 860 punt return yards and four punt return touchdowns before leaving Salt Lake City.