Marqise Lee leaves USC practice in a sling


In March, the USC football program received a scare when All-Everything receiver Marqise Lee went down during spring practice with what turned out to be a minor knee injury.

Five months later, it’s an area on Lee’s person a couple of feet north that’s causing some consternation as the Trojans continue prepping for what they’re hoping is a rebound season in 2013.

At some point during practice Friday, the All-American Lee was on the receiving end of a deep pass but landed awkwardly on his right shoulder after contact with a teammate.  Lee was carted off the field by the team’s training staff and was later seen wearing a sling.

As of this morning, the football program has not updated Lee’s condition or the extent of the apparent shoulder injury.

Following practice, all head coach Lane Kiffin would say is that “I saw them looking at him, and then I had to get going to the rest of our players just like we would in a game.”

At least publicly, Lee’s teammates are putting up a confident front.

“Obviously, your heart stops for a second,” quarterback Cody Kessler, who threw the deep ball on which Lee was injured, said. “But Marqise is a tough guy. He’ll be fine.”

It goes without saying that Lee’s presence is of the utmost importance to the Trojans. How important? USC’s media guide sums up Lee’s first two seasons in Los Angeles in very stark black-and-white terms:

He owns or shares 22 USC records (5 are Pac-12 records and 1 is an NCAA mark). He has 191 catches for 2,864 yards (15.0 avg.) with 25 TDs in his career, along with 40 kickoff returns for 1,141 yards (28.5 avg.) with 2 TDs, 18 carries for 139 yards (7.7 avg.) and 3 tackles. He is sixth on USC’s career pass catching list (191 receptions, 22nd on Pac-12 list) and eighth on USC’s career kickoff return list (1,141 yards). His 2,864 career receiving yards are USC records for most in freshman and sophomore seasons and over 2 consecutive seasons, and are seventh most in USC history (20th on the Pac-12 list). His 25 career TD catches is fourth most at USC (tied for 14th on the Pac-12 career list). He has 12 career 100-yard receiving games (with a school-record tying twice with 200 yards). He has a school-record 8 career games with double digit receptions and 6 career contests with multiple TDs. He has had at least 8 receptions in 14 games in his career, including 9 in a row at one point (last 4 of 2011, first 5 of 2012). He has had 20 receiving TDs in the past 17 games, with at least 1 in 12 of those contests. His pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons (2011 and 2012) equals a school record. He has 2 career scoring kickoff returns. He has 4,144 career all-purpose yards on 249 plays (16.6 avg.) with 27 TDs. He has 21 career starts.

Lee became the first-ever USC winner of the Biletnikoff Award last season and was a unanimous first-team All-American.  He Will Likely be a season-long candidate for the Heisman Trophy — a new, inexperienced quarterback could cause his numbers to drop, however — and, after what’s expected to be an early jump, could be a top-ten selection in next April’s NFL draft.

So, yeah, his health is kind of important to whoever it is that takes over for Matt Barkley under center for the Trojans.  And for the head coach who’s not on the coaching hot seat winkwinknudgenudge.

UPDATED 12:37 p.m. ET: From the football team’s Twitter page:

USC WR Marqise Lee is not practicing this morning due to undisclosed injury. Lane Kiffin will have update after tonight’s practice.