Lee hopes to be '100 percent' vs. Notre Dame

USC's Marqise Lee is inching toward a return from a knee injury. Will he be ready vs. Notre Dame?

LOS ANGELES -- As the sun set on Howard Jones Field on Tuesday evening with USC wrapping up another practice in preparation for their non-conference rivalry matchup with Notre Dame, many players began to disperse.

One of the few Trojans remaining on the field was wide receiver Marqise Lee. The star wideout was without pads but doing some light running when he was held up by his head coach, Ed Orgeron.

The two talked and laughed during a short round of catch. Lee's hands are fine. No more than 10 yards from his head coach, he caught every pass – some balls thrown at his chest, some thrown above his head, and others forcing him to reach to either side.

"I told him when he catches my ball it's like catching a tipped pass," Orgeron joked.

Lee is still recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of Orgeron's debut last Thursday night at the Coliseum against Arizona, but he appears to be inching toward a return.

"I think I'm coming along pretty good," Lee said. "I think by Saturday I think I'll be OK. 100 percent by Saturday."

Of course, Orgeron will have the final say in Lee being on the field in South Bend on Saturday night.

The last time USC fans saw Lee in uniform he was being carted off at Arizona State. It was an injury and time he says made him "scared" not knowing the extent of the injury.

It wasn't until the MRI that he learned the injury wasn't as serious as some may have speculated originally.

He also had some tips from the trainers alerting him he'd be OK.

"I felt pain so that was a good sign at least that's what the trainers told me," Lee said. "They said 'Do you feel pain?' I said 'Yeah.' They said 'Good job. That's good.' At that time I'm like 'What? No. Not at all.' They said it was good. I was happy at the end of the day and now I'm getting better.

"I expected the worst when it first happened. I'm not going to lie to you but it's good to know God blessed me to be healthy."

Playing in South Bend is extra incentive for Lee to be healthy enough to take the field with his teammates. In USC's last trip to Notre Dame, Lee didn't have as good a showing as he would've liked, finishing with two catches for 36 yards as a freshman. He hopes to make good on that this time around.

"Notre Dame's a big, big game," he said.