Should There Be Two Pitt Panther Heisman Candidates?

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In my opinion, Kenny Pickett is the best player in college football this season.  He continues to shoulder the Pitt offense, and wills them to victory despite a terrible Panther secondary doing their best to blow leads game after game.  However, as fortunate as that is for the Pitt Panthers and the state of the program, it has overshadowed another top college football player. That's because this star wide receiver plays for the same team.  Teammate, and true sophomore, Jordan Addison is having a Heisman-worthy season at just 19 years of age and only Pitt fans are talking about it.

The Panther wide receiver is profiting off of the performance of Pickett, but a quarterback is only as good as his O-line and receivers around him.  I would also say Pickett is profiting off of Addison's talent as well.  I also believe that Addison is having a good enough season that he deserves a spot next to Pickett on stage in New York for the Heisman ceremony.  

Historic Performance and Season

In Pitt’s Coastal division clincher on Saturday against the Virginia Cavaliers, Addison had a historic performance.  On the night, Addison recorded 202 yards and four touchdowns.  Step aside Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Bryant, and Dorin Dickerson, because Addison is the lone Pitt receiver in that category.  No Panther receiver in the history of the program has recorded 200+ yards while also scoring four touchdowns in a single game until Addison did it Saturday night.

And this game just adds to the impressive numbers Addison has been putting up all season.  In 11 games this season, he has now recorded 15 receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, and 1272 yards receiving.  That places him 1st in the nation in receiving touchdowns, and 4th in receiving yards.  However, Jalen Tolbert, ranked 3rd, from South Alabama is putting up these numbers against the Sun Belt, while Jerreth Sterns (1st) and Deven Thompkins (2nd) have needed 123 receptions and 82 receptions respectively to stay ahead of Addision in the yards race.  It is not Addison’s fault that the Panthers also have a run game and several other talented receivers around him.

Additionally, only one other Power 5 skill player has more total touchdowns than Addison, and that is Kenneth Walker from Michigan State.  However, every article you’ll read has Walker in the conversation without a mention of Addison.  I know quarterbacks are king, but a wide receiver did win the award last season and several running backs have won in the past.

Speaking of that wide receiver, let’s match Addison’s numbers against 2020 Heisman award winner DeVonta Smith from Alabama.  In 13 games in 2020 (conference championship games don’t count for stats on sports-reference, but bowl games do), Smith recorded 117 receptions, 1856 yards receiving, and 24 total touchdowns.  In his first 11 games this season, Addision has 74 receptions, 1272 receiving yards, and 16 total touchdowns.  Each are going to be difficult for Addision to reach, but I believe he could get close enough that it warrants national conversation.  If Addison records 120+ yards and 2+ touchdowns in each of his last two games , he would be among, if not the, best skill player in the nation based on the numbers. 

I know quarterbacks get all of the love in both college football and the NFL.  I also know that a 2-loss Pitt team, or any single team for that matter, would ever get two Heisman nominations.  However, I do believe that if Kenny Pickett was not the clear choice from Pitt to nominate, that Addison would deserve a spot on that stage in New York.  I hope that Pitt can bring in a quarterback next season that can show off Addison even more and maybe we’ll see Panthers up on that Heisman stage in back-to-back seasons. 

A guy can dream, right?