USC injuries give Lee crash course in leadership

With Robert Woods gone, Marqise Lee is now the leader of the USC receivers.

LOS ANGELESMarqise Lee says some of his teammates were shaken up — they’d seen this movie before.

Just two months before, the Trojans watched as receiver George Farmer went down with a season-ending knee injury.
"It happens," is the message Lee has tried to explain to injured teammate Steven Mitchell, as well as the healthy receivers on his team.

Mitchell suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, a blow to an untested group of receivers, minus Lee of course.

The unfortunate part of the matter is injuries are a part of the game.

By all accounts, Mitchell was having a fantastic summer and looking like a lock to be the Trojans' No. 3 receiver heading into fall camp.

The question now is: Who will emerge?

Like Mitchell, the rest of the candidates are vastly unproven.

Fifth-year senior De'Von Flournoy has one career catch. Freshman Darreus Rogers was slowed during spring because of a shoulder injury.

Perhaps the player with the most to prove of the bunch is redshirt sophomore Victor Blackwell.

He, like just about every player that puts on a USC uniform, came in with high expectations as an Army All-American, but has spent his career playing behind the likes of Robert Woods, Lee and last season, Nelson Agholor.

Blackwell ended spring with a bang, catching seven balls for 155 yards and a touchdown. He feels now is his time.

“I just feel like I got to step up that much more. I got to be accountable so the coaches can trust me and I can play," Blackwell said.

As for Lee, this is his first year as the primary voice in the wide receivers room with the departure of Woods to the NFL.

Lee's getting a first-class lesson in leadership, having now lost two players at the position because of injury. He's now more inclined to push his fellow receivers knowing he's going to need all of them to step up.

"From this point on, you get into Vic's head, you get into everybody else’s head — even the walk-ons — and let them know, ‘We just lost two receivers who are capable of actually playing, now somebody has to step up,’ " Lee said. “It can’t just be one.
“I know we’re going to go out there and it’s going to be double teams (or) bracket (coverage) and (similar to) the opportunity I took with Rob (Woods). Whoever wants to take advantage of it in the early run, that’s what they need to do and that’s what I try to get in their head.”

Send feedback on our
new story page