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Better for them to receive, but ...

USC FOOTBALL

USC's top wideouts Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor also might be the Trojans' best cornerbacks, but Coach Lane Kiffin says it's unlikely they'll play defense.

April 11, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • Marqise Lee takes to the field with his Trojan teammates during spring practice at USC.
Marqise Lee takes to the field with his Trojan teammates during spring practice… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor have established themselves as USC's top receivers.

They also might be the Trojans' best cornerbacks, Coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday.

Despite injuries and USC's struggles at the position this spring, Kiffin deemed it unlikely that Lee and Agholor would play on defense in the coming season.

"I've thought about it, maybe," Kiffin said. "Hopefully, we won't be in that situation with numbers so that we'd have to do that.

Given three-year starter Nickell Robey's early departure for the NFL draft and the position group's propensity to give up big plays this spring, Kiffin has described the cornerback spot as "a huge concern."

Lee and Agholor played cornerback in a drill early this spring and impressed.

Asked if he would consider utilizing Lee if the group's struggles continued into fall, Kiffin said, "We did just think about that this week. Really, with both [Lee and Agholor], they would be our best two corners."

Lee, a 6-foot, 195-pound junior who won the Biletnikoff Award as college football's top receiver in 2012, played defensive back and receiver at Gardena Serra High.

He intercepted nine passes in his final two seasons.

Agholor, a 6-1, 185-pound sophomore, also played both positions at Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep High. He intercepted 15 passes in four seasons.

The wear and tear of playing in Pac-12 Conference games that feature a high number of snaps and the potential effect on offensive production would discourage Kiffin from playing the two on defense.

"I just don't know how those guys could take that amount of plays," he said. "Maybe in a limited role."

Telfer out

Junior tight end Randall Telfer had knee surgery Thursday to repair a torn meniscus and he will be sidelined four to six weeks, Kiffin said.

That leaves the Trojans with only one tight end — sophomore Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick — for Saturday's final scrimmage at the Coliseum.

More than 20 players will not participate because of injuries.

Sarao stepping up

Sophomore linebacker Anthony Sarao is flourishing in the "52" scheme installed by defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Sarao, a New Jersey native who started one game last season and played as a reserve in 12 others, has worked extensively with the first unit.

"It's an attacking style; that's what I like to do," Sarao said. "It's simple. You don't have to think too much. You just get after it."

Quick hits

Receiver George Farmer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on April 2, will have surgery next week, Kiffin said…. Saturday's scrimmage will begin at 1 p.m. Admission is $10. Central City Community Outreach, which serves families and children in the skid row area, will receive all proceeds from ticket sales, USC said.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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