USC receiver Marqise Lee takes off his helmet during a break in spring practice. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Marqise Lee is USC's star player — an All-American receiver, potential Heisman Trophy candidate and projected first-round NFL draft pick who is being counted on to help the Trojans rebound from a disappointing season.
So a pall settled over USC's practice facility Friday after Lee suffered an apparent shoulder injury and was escorted from the premises by team athletic trainers.
Lee was hurt about midway through a workout when he caught a long pass from quarterback Cody Kessler and appeared to land on his right shoulder after a defender made contact.
Trainers attended to Lee on the field and then escorted him from the facility through a gate to the adjoining baseball stadium.
Lee was shirtless and had his right arm in a sling, according to witnesses near the baseball field, when he was transported by golf cart from the area.
Coach Lane Kiffin said after practice that he did not have information about Lee's condition.
"I saw them looking at him, and then I had to get going to the rest of our players just like we would in a game," Kiffin said.
A USC athletic department spokesman said Friday night that he could not provide an update on Lee.
Serious injury or not, managing Lee's physical condition will be an extremely high priority throughout a season that begins Aug. 29 at Hawaii.
Trojans players expressed hope that the injury was not serious and confidence in Lee's ability to overcome it.
"Obviously, your heart stops for a second," Kessler said. "But Marqise is a tough guy. He'll be fine."
If Lee is sidelined, it will leave the Trojans with only three sound scholarship receivers: sophomores Nelson Agholor and Victor Blackwell and freshman Darreus Rogers.
Junior George Farmer and freshman Steven Mitchell are redshirting after knee surgeries. Senior De'Von Flournoy has been sidelined the last few days because of an apparent knee injury.
Rogers would step into a starting role opposite Agholor if Lee cannot practice or play.
"He's the third guy right now and he'd have to step up and play, like what's happened before here," Kiffin said.
Rogers said he expected Lee — his training camp roommate — to be fine.
"It just tells me I've got to get in my playbook more," Rogers said. "Anything can happen at any time. Just be ready."