Marqise Lee is the favorite for the Biletnikoff Award on Thursday night. Where does Lee rank in the discussion for the greatest USC receiver of all time?
I feel comfortable in saying that Lee is the most dynamic receiver I’ve seen play at USC. The way he has developed his game this year as an attacking weapon with the ball in his hands was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. I can’t imagine there is a better receiver in college football right now. With that being said, I’m not ready to call him the best receiver in USC history yet. That honor still goes to either Keyshawn Johnson or Mike Williams. I go back and forth on those two in part because their accomplishments balance each other out so well. The big difference between Lee and those two is big-time bowl wins. Lee has none, while the other two both played major roles in leading their teams to a pair of bowl victories.
In a nutshell, when was the last time a Trojan was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore? Nuff said. Lee has the chance to be the greatest wide receiver ever at Troy, but he’ll need to follow it up with even a more productive performance as a junior, if that’s possible. Unfortunately, he will probably depart to the NFL after his next year, so, like Mike Williams, we will likely never see the senior version of Lee. The only problem I have with this topic is that Lee is in an offense made to showcase wide receivers. What would it have been if USC Hall of Famer Lynn Swann had played in this pass-happy offense? Just food for thought.
With names like Lynn Swan, John Jackson, Curtis Conway, Johnnie Morton, Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett having come before Lee -- not to mention current teammate Robert Woods -- it’s safe to say USC has had more than its share of extraordinary pass-catchers over the years. Still, with what he accomplished in 2012, I think Lee is the best of them all. With the added muscle he put on prior to this season, the Gardena (Calif.) Serra product proved to be even more dangerous in the open field -- a trait I believe separates him from all of the other greats. I always regarded Williams as USC’s top receiver, particularly after his 11-catch, 181-yard, two-touchdown first-half performance against UCLA in 2003. And while Lee doesn’t have Williams’ 6-foot-5 height, he’s a more complete package, possessing the speed and ability as a home-run threat that Williams didn’t. Barring a complete collapse in 2013, I expect Lee to leave the school with the undisputed title as the team’s greatest wide receiver ever.