You often hear of many father-son combinations in college football, leading up to an eventual NFL career. The latest has taken place at USC as Trojans receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has begun to exit his father's shadow and create an image of his own.
His father is former Arizona Cardinals (1998-2001), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2007), and Denver Broncos (2008) running back Michael Pittman. His glory days came with the Bucs, helping them claim a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII (2002). An 11-year career, he finished with 5,627 career rushing yards.
Pittman, Jr. was a standout performer at Oaks Christian High School (California). During the final two seasons of his career, he finished with 128 catches for 2,904 receiving yards, and 36 touchdowns. One of the best games in schoool history came during his last as he finished his high school career by making a statement. He final stats included 16 catches for 354 yards, and five touchdowns against Bishop Amat in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs. Selected as a U.S. Army All-American, he would suffer a broken collarbone during the week of practice leading up to the game as was unable to participate.
Still enrolling at USC early (Jan. 2016), he saw action in 13 games mostly as a special teams contributor and return specialist. His role and playing time on offense increased during his sophomore season, but it got off to a slow start while being hampered with a sprained left ankle. Logging six starts in 11 games, Pittman, Jr. finished with 23 catches for 404 receiving yards and two touchdowns. 2018 was the Trojans wideout first season as s full-time starter.
Recording 11 starts, he amassed 41 catches for 758 yards, and six touchdowns. He would miss the game against California due to a left shoulder injury. The damage resulted in offseason surgery.
Following a mountain of adversity, he's finally beginning to scratch the surface of his potential that most knew that he possessed. Through eight games, he has already recorded a career high in catches (50) and is only three yards away from matching his receiving yard total from a year ago. Becoming an integral part of the Trojan's offensive attack, his most impressive performance of his career came during the teams upset victory over Utah.
In a dominating performance, Pittman, Jr. recorded 10 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown. He became the first USC wideout to record 200-plus receiving yards in a game since Marquise Lee in 2012.
His best traits are his strong hands at the catch point and a tremendous catch radius to go with it. Now extending out and creating a name for himself, he has firmly put himself on the radar of NFL teams after a lackluster and inconsistent start to his Trojan career.
Faced with another tough matchup, the Trojans take on No. 7 ranked Oregon. A prospect that's continued to improve weekly, all eyes will be on Pittman and how he stacks up against a very talented Ducks secondary.