USC's receiving duo of Lee, Agholor could be potent
Marqise Lee put up some monster numbers in 2012: 14 touchdowns, 1,721 receiving yards, 206.4 all-purpose yards per game.
Yet, the junior wide receiver, the Biletnikoff Award winner as well as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, is not thinking about accolades.
“As a player, I don’t go into seasons focused on hype,” Lee said Friday at 2013 Pac-12 Football Media Day in Culver City, Calif. “The Heisman is the last thing on my mind.”
What is on his mind is improvement, as a team and individually. “You should always be able to motivate yourself,” he said. He is pushing his teammates, and they in turn are pushing him.
Other players besides Lee will have to step up for the Trojans to better their 7-6 record a season ago and return to the championship conversation. There will be some new faces this season, particularly at quarterback and alongside Lee at wide receiver.
Four-year starter Matt Barkley is off to the NFL, and his replacement will be Max Wittek, Cody Kessler or Max Browne.
“All three guys are going to go in with a shot,” said head coach Lane Kiffin. “They’re all going to be really good quarterbacks at USC at some point in their career.”
But the starter has yet to be determined. “Just like you guys,” Lee told the media, “I’m trying to figure out who the quarterback is gonna be, too.”
Lee said he has divided his time in practice among the three, making sure he establishes a connection with each of them. “If they each get five reps, I’m going to make sure I get at least three” with each, he said.
Another familiar face, Robert Woods, is gone, leaving Lee as the Trojans' featured receiver, sure to receive special attention from defenses that no longer have to worry about a second All-American receiver on the field. Lee seems confident that sophomore Nelson Agholor is more than capable of filling Woods’ shoes as his sidekick.
"I think I can look over and look at him being Rob," Lee said. "I feel it's just the same. I think Nelson stepped in Rob's shoes and fulfilled them as good as possible, so I think we will be all right."
When Lee missed time during spring practice, Agholor, who caught 19 passes for 340 yards in 2012, was the top receiver. Kiffin praised his skill set and uniqueness as a player.
“He’s really competitive on the field,” Kiffin said. “He’s a great leader even though he just finished up his first year.”