If Brian Kelly could go back in time, he might just change the way he handled the recruitment of Jordan Addison.
Kelly, Notre Dame's eleventh-year football coach, wanted Addison, but only as a defensive player. A cornerback to be specific.
Just six games into the 2020 season, it seems Addison — now a freshman wide receiver at Pitt — made the right decision to play on the offensive side of the ball.
“We were looking for longer corners and he kind of stood out, from that perspective,” said Kelly. “It didn’t work out for other reasons, but I think he’s going to be a premier player in this league.
“He’s coming into his own. I think they’re finding that he’s going to be that kind of player. He’s going to get bigger, stronger, more physical. But he’s a fine player right now as a true freshman and he’s only going to get better.”
Pitt wouldn’t object.
Addison, the Panthers’ top pass catcher, ranks sixth in the NCAA and leads the ACC with 38 receptions this year. His 444 yards are second-best in the conference.
“Week in and week out, I’m just trying to get better every day,” he said. “Every week, I just try to take a step forward and just keep moving forward, keep my head up no matter what the outcome is of each game. Just get back in the lab and keep working every day.”
Working hard is nice. That, matched with talent, leads to big numbers. And that’s what Pitt is getting out of Addison.
“I knew it was possible, but I didn’t know it would come this quick,” he said. “I see (the stats) every once in a while when it pops up, but I don’t pay too much attention to it. I just go out there and do my job.”
This Saturday, when Pitt looks to snap a three-game skid and pull an upset of No. 3 Notre Dame, they’ll likely turn heavily to the newcomer. Who throws him the ball is up in the air, as senior Kenny Pickett is still dealing with an ankle injury.
Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi primarily used redshirt freshman Joey Yellen against Miami last week, though Davis Beville did see some time and could play this weekend.
Even without Pickett, Addison was able to deliver Saturday against another nationally ranked team in Miami. He caught eight balls for 147 yards, the most for a Pitt freshman since current Cincinnati Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd went for 173 yards in 2013.
Kelly already knows that Addison is a threat, but now he’ll get to see it in person, just 16 months after Addison took the offensive route and committed to Pitt.
“Obviously he can play other positions, as well,” Kelly said. “We’re finding out he’s going to be one of the top receivers in this league for a few years now.”
You can hear Pitt’s game against No. 3 Notre Dame this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.