LOS ANGELES – The USC Trojans returned to the practice field on Tuesday after a 10-day layoff for spring break.
Max Wittek returned to practice after missing the team’s previous three practices with a knee injury. He admitted he battled a little bit of rust.
Not on the field Tuesday for the fourth straight practice was All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee.
Lee injured his knee during practice before the Trojans first scrimmage of the spring at the Coliseum 17 days ago.
Head coach Lane Kiffin and the USC medical staff has been extremely cautious with Lee this spring and for good reason. In 2012, Lee became the first Biletnikoff Award winner in school history after catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He’s yet to be cleared to return to practice but Lee feels like he’s healthy enough to be on the field.
All was not lost for Lee on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, he cemented himself in Trojan lore.
He hung a plaque of himself on the Trojan All-American Walk outside of the McKay Center commemorating his consensus All-American season of 2012. Lee’s plaque is directly beneath T.J. McDonald’s plaque of 2011 as well as Matt Kalil and Lee’s former USC and Serra High School teammate, Robert Woods. Lee is the 160th Trojan football All-American.
“I never thought I’d be on there to tell you the truth,” Lee said. “It wasn’t one of my goals, actually.”
Lee has always taken his life experiences, good or bad, and used them as motivation. Winning the Biletnikoff Award was a sign of that and having a plaque displayed outside of the McKay Center will be no different.
“By me having a couple of more years, people are just going to look forward to me to doing it again and that’s the hard part about it, just filling the shoes you’ve already filled,” he said. “I’m going to have it hard but I’m going to make sure I get it done.
“This is the major motivation aspect. There’s a lot of great players on the wall and just me (personally), I don’t feel as if I’m there yet and I got a long way to go, so just me being on that wall, that’s just telling me I need to work harder so I can actually say ‘you know what? I deserve to be on there by the time I leave here.’”
As he prepares to add to his legacy, he’s itching to get back on the field. After Tuesday’s practice, Lee sought Kiffin and told his head coach he wants to return to the practice field on Thursday.
“What did the trainers say?” Kiffin shot back at his All-American.
Lee said he’ll try to call or text his head coach on Wednesday to further drive the point home but understands the decision, ultimately, belongs to Kiffin.
“Man, I hate standing on the sidelines,” Lee said.
Kiffin is trying to make sure he won’t be on the sidelines, in the fall, that is.