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USC's Marqise Lee says he hasn't decided whether to declare for draft

Junior receiver Marqise Lee is eligible to enter the next NFL draft, but he says his focus is on playing UCLA on Saturday.

November 26, 2013|By Gary Klein

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USC junior receiver Marqise Lee said Tuesday that he has not decided, or even thought about, whether he will make himself for the NFL draft.

The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner also said he has not considered that Saturday's game against UCLA might be his last for the Trojans at the Coliseum.

But Lee, who has struggled through several injuries this season, is the draft-eligible USC player most likely to turn pro after the season.

So it would be wise to take a good long look at one of the most dynamic players in USC history when the No. 23 Trojans play the No. 22 Bruins in the 83rd meeting between the rivals.

"I've been focusing on trying to leave all the outside stuff out," Lee said. "Just focus on the weekend and actually getting the job done."

Lee caught a Pac-12 record 118 passes in 2012. He began the season needing 62 receptions to break Robert Woods' USC career record of 252.

Lee has been sidelined or limited in several games because of shoulder, knee and shin injuries. He has 44 receptions, with the UCLA game and a bowl game left to play.

Lee did not travel with the Trojans to Colorado last week, but he practiced Tuesday and will play against the Bruins.

"He's not 100%," interim Coach Ed Orgeron said, "but I know he's going to give us as much as he can."

USC's roster includes 32 draft-eligible juniors and third-year sophomores. Orgeron said coaches would meet with players and parents after the UCLA game to discuss options.

Receivers coach Tee Martin said he spoke with Lee early in the year about eliminating possible distractions — "people grabbing at you, agents trying to get your attention" — but he said he would wait until after Saturday to have the "decision conversation."

"He's going to be my top recruit going into this winter recruiting cycle and we'll see how it goes," Martin said.

Martin, however, will support Lee whatever he decides.

"My deal for him is, 'Do do you want to come back and try to see if you want to be a top-five pick?'" Martin said. "'If just being a first-rounder is good for you, then go ahead.'"

Lee said one of his favorite Coliseum memories came last season, when Woods established the USC record for career receptions and quarterback Matt Barkley set a Pac-12 record for career touchdown passes in a victory over Colorado.

"It was great to see that," he said. "It's not many memories of myself, more of other players."

Ballot box

UCLA Coach Jim Mora said he voted for Orgeron for Pac-12 coach of the year.

"That's the kind of job I think he's done," Mora said. "He's very deserving of it."

Orgeron, a semifinalist for the Maxwell Football Club coach of the year award, has guided the Trojans to a 6-1 record since Lane Kiffin was fired.

When apprised of Mora's vote, he said, "That's nice of him. It's really just a compliment to our football team and our coaching staff."

Quick hits

The Trojans will practice in the early afternoon Wednesday and then go to a restaurant for a "special occasion" meal, Orgeron said. Asked what the players would eat, he said, "everything on the menu."… Linebacker Charles Burks was selected to the Pac-12 Conference All-Academic team. Linebacker Devon Kennard and defensive back Ryan Dillard were second team. ... Kennard is one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. … Former players Shaun Cody, Darnell Bing, Lee Webb, Kevin Arbet and Tom Malone attended practice.

Twitter: @latimesklein

Staff writer Chris Foster contributed to this report.

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