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USC's Marqise Lee thinks about Olympics

As a freshman last spring, the receiver competed in the long jump as a member of a Trojans track team that included 400-meter runner Bryshon Nellum. Lee says track has helped him in football.

August 11, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • USC receiver Marqise Lee finished 17th in long jump at the NCAA championships this spring.
USC receiver Marqise Lee finished 17th in long jump at the NCAA championships… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

USC receiver Marqise Lee kept a curious eye on the Olympics before and during the Trojans' first week of training camp.

As a freshman last spring, the multitalented Lee competed in the long jump for a Trojans track team that included Olympic 400-meter runner Bryshon Nellum.

Lee's best mark was 25 feet 5 1/2 inches. He finished 17th at the NCAA championships.

"I think about it here and there — just having the opportunity to actually go to the Olympics," Lee said Saturday after practice. "I'm still in football…. But I'm not going to tell you I don't think about it; I think about it."

Much of the focus during training camp has been on the condition of junior receiver Robert Woods' surgically repaired right ankle. Woods sat out most of the afternoon workout after participating in the morning practice.

Meantime, the 6-foot, 190-pound Lee is working tirelessly to build on his freshman season, when he caught 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The work on the track has helped him in football.

"There were plenty of times in practices last year when I was kind of winded," he said. "This year, I don't feel it as much.... It gave me the energy to keep going and going and going."

Quarterback Matt Barkley said Lee continues to solicit feedback about ways to improve route running.

"You can see he still has the urge to learn and get better," Barkley said.

Woods noted another stride made by Lee.

"He's definitely a leader, speaking up not only to receivers, to the whole team to try and get everybody motivated," Woods said.

On the line

USC Coach Lane Kiffin installed Aundrey Walker as the starting left tackle during spring practice, but the 6-foot-6 sophomore has been sidelined for most of the first week of camp because of injuries.

With the Sept. 1 opener against Hawaii three weeks away, walk-on Nathan Guertler, a 6-5, 270-pound redshirt sophomore from Norco, continues to work in Walker's place. Freshman Max Tuerk also worked at the spot Saturday.

Kiffin said Walker, who has never played left tackle in a game for the Trojans, would be "fine." But he expressed concern about his inability to practice.

"You can't get better if you're not out here," he said.

Quick hits

With middle linebacker Lamar Dawson absent because of an undisclosed injury, Hayes Pullard worked at middle linebacker…. Defensive end Morgan Breslin intercepted a pass by quarterback Max Wittek to end practice….Kiffin said the Trojans were feeling the effects of an NCAA penalty that allows them only 75 scholarship players, 10 fewer than the allowable maximum. "That's why we have so many guys beat up," he said, "because you just don't have the numbers to go to."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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