The 2012 season was disappointing for the USC Trojans. A preseason favorite to win the national title, the Trojans stumbled to a 7-6 (5-4 Pac-12) record. High expectations ran rampant before the season and were not met. But that doesn’t mean that everyone didn’t meet the expectations.
In fact, USC junior wide receiver Marquise Lee did more than just live up to the hype entering the 2012 campaign. He far exceeded what anyone was expecting of him for his sophomore year by putting up record-breaking numbers. Lee had a huge season in 2011 as a freshman, hauling in nearly over 70 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 scores.
You know that sophomore slump? Lee didn’t have it.. He led the nation with 118 catches and ranked second in receiving yards with 1,721, both Pac-12 records. Lee ranked second nationally in receptions (9.1, first in Pac-12) and yards (132.4) per game, third in all-purpose YPG at 206.4 (first in Pac-12) and touchdowns.
USC has a long standing history of great receivers, and Lee broke or tied 16 individual records, making it all the more impressive.
It’ll be hard to top those numbers for his junior year, but 2013 should prove to be another big season for Lee. The biggest question to just how good of a season it will be depends greatly on the quarterback play. Gone is Matt Barkley and battling to take over the starting job are Max Wittek and Cody Kessler. Neither has had much experience and whoever wins the job will have to work to get to know Lee’s tendencies and strengths better.
Lee isn’t a physically big receiver at 6-foot, 195 pounds. However, he is very athletic. He is very fast and it can be seen on the track, where he is a sprinter as well as a long jumper for the Trojans track and field team. Lee also has exceptional hands and catches many balls that most guys can’t.
Another factor that should make for a big 2013 is departed receiver Robert Woods. Woods was second behind Lee in most receiving categories for the Trojans in 2012, and his departure to the NFL should create even more opportunities for Lee, though it’s not like he needs it. Lee will be the most experienced receiver by far, so whoever wins the starting quarterback job will rely heavily on Lee to make passes to.
The top returning receiver besides Lee is junior tight end Xavier Grimble, who had 29 catches for 316 yards and five scores. All of the inexperience out wide points towards Lee getting a lot more balls coming his way, especially early on as the core works to get acclimated.
With all things considered, 2013 looks to be another monster year for the All-American wide receiver. If Wittek or Kessler come out strong, Lee could compete for the Heisman Trophy. USC has a few question marks to answer before everything kicks off, but Lee is certainly not one of them.