USC receiver Michael Pittman Jr. named Biletnikoff Award finalist

USC receiver Michael Pittman Jr. catches a pass in front of UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes (1) during a game Nov. 23 at the Coliseum.
USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. has 95 catches for 1,222 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Pittman Jr. waited patiently to take his place as USC’s premier receiver. On Monday, after a senior season to remember, he was recognized as one of the premier receivers in the nation.

Pittman was named one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wideout. Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who’s averaging 21.5 yards per catch, and LSU’s JaMarr Chase, who leads all Power Five receivers in yards and touchdowns, also were named finalists.

Pittman is second in the nation in catches (95) and eighth in touchdown catches (11). No USC receiver has matched those marks since Nelson Agholor in 2014.

But it was Pittman’s consistency that made his senior season truly special. He scored in eight of 12 games. He caught at least six passes in nine. He dropped just two catchable passes, according to Pro Football Focus.


It remains to be seen if Clay Helton will be coaching a USC team in 2020 that has started to show a big promise with Kedon Slovis and the offense.

And in critical moments, Pittman often took over. Against Utah, he turned in one the most memorable performances by a Pac-12 receiver in recent memory, as he piled up 232 yards and two touchdowns against the conference’s best defense. In a desperate fourth quarter at Colorado, Pittman came alive, catching two long scores.

The last USC receiver to win the Biletnikoff was Marqise Lee in 2012, when he caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The award will be announced Dec. 12.