USC beat writers Dan Greenspan and Whitney Blaine recap the Trojans' impressive 48-41 win over the…
Unfortunately for USC, he came up a yard short. Unfortunately for Lee, he hurt his hand in the process.
Lee limped off the field in pain. He went to the locker room shortly thereafter, presumably done for the day.
But something more significant happened than a temporary injury. As eight football minutes passed, those in attendance watched the progression of a boy turn into a man.
With six minutes left to play, the freshman receiver was not on the sideline or in an ice bath. Lee was back on the field. He caught a five-yard pass to get a first down for his team.
"We know he's a tough guy, we know who he is," center Khaled Holmes said.
"[i] just wanted to let them know I'll never let the team down," Lee said. "Regardless of whether I'm hurt or not I'm still going to try and work for them."
You'd never have guessed Lee had jammed all five fingers in his left hand and got X-rays in those eight minutes.
You'd also never have guessed he was a freshman.
"He's better, he's faster, he's stronger [than me]," fellow receiver and Serra High teammate Robert Woods said. The two receivers combined for three of the Trojans' touchdowns in their 48-41 win over Arizona.
Comparisons aside, Lee is truly something special. Upon his arrival at USC, Lee flew under the radar and shadow of another Serra teammate, freshman and five-star recruit George Farmer. But now it's plain for all to see: Marqise Lee deserves recognition as much as he deserves the ball.
"I know it's early to say but I think he is going to be one of the best receivers ever to play at this school," coach Lane Kiffin said just a few days before Lee's eight-catch, 144-yard game.
If you talk to Lee, he's oozes humility. Everything is "for my team," and "because of these guys." He addresses people with "thank yous" when they say congratulations, but never expects the praise. When he's not suited up, his walk is unassuming and his smile genuine.
"He's such a great athlete and a great receiver. We've almost come to expect [greatness] from him. Obviously he's done a great job and it's another exciting player that we have," Holmes said.
Woods and Lee are both thrilling to watch, but they are not the same. Lee is better on the run, Woods better in traffic. Both are incredibly smart, athletic and fast. But they are two different people, who both share a mutual respect for one another's game.
"It is fairly humbling but I know Marqise is his own person, his own player and I just like playing with him," Woods said. "I played with him in high school and it's just exciting to see him grow in this offense. I'm really proud of him."
The two Serra alum caught nearly 400 yards in 22 receptions against the Wildcats. Just five games into the season and the Trojans have an 18 and 19 year-old running the show.
"We're obviously really excited for the fact that our two top receivers in our mind are a true sophomore and a true freshman. The future is bright," Kiffin said.
It's blinding, really.