A year ago tonight, Marqise Lee sat in the living room of his Inglewood home and tried to decide where he should go to college.
By that point, on the eve of National Signing Day 2011, he had narrowed down his choices to three schools: Oregon, Miami and USC.
He had officially visited Oregon, USC and Cal and loved all three visits. And he had been heavily recruited by Miami. But one of his best friends, George Farmer, was set to sign with USC, and one of his old teammates, Robert Woods, was already there.
So Lee sat and fielded calls on his cell phone throughout the night, eventually choosing to sign with the Trojans next day in what wasn't quite a surprise but was never a given until the day of.
"I was in this same predicament last year, man," Lee said Tuesday, after a Trojans' throwing session at Howard Jones Field. "It's crazy how fast things went. This is the time where people have to really sit down and think about where they really want to go."
Lee, a Freshman All-American in 2011 with 73 catches for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns, has tried to help a lot of high-school recruits in recent days who are dealing with similar situations, including his former Serra teammate Raymond Ford, an ex-UCLA commit. He has also had a number of recruits who he has never met message him on Facebook and ask him for advice.
What does he tell them, regardless of what schools they're considering?
"It's always the best move to go and compete," Lee said. "It shows you're determined. It shows you want to take someone's spot."
Of course, longtime USC commit Darreus Rogers (Carson, Calif./Carson) is considering Arizona State for that very reason. He has told reporters he would get a better opportunity to play right away with the Sun Devils than he would with the Trojans, and is thus considering switching schools to ASU at the last second.
Rogers did not attend the throwing session, although he had indicated via Twitter he would. Asked Tuesday about the situation at receiver at USC, Lee said he understood why recruits could be initially skeptical of the depth chart. But he also said closer examination revealed there would be room to climb the chart sooner rather than later.
"You never know," Lee said. "Robert could leave early. (De'Von Flournoy) could leave. There's so many opportunities you could get. The only thing holding you back is your mindset and how you're seeing it.
"I mean, sure, I had a decent season, but it's not like I can't get my spot taken too."
And remembers what it was like to be a situation similar to Rogers', without an announced school the night before he was due to decide.
"I had a lot of people in my ear telling me, oh, you shouldn't go to 'SC, there's Woody and George there," he said. "But I decided that that was what I wanted.
"I wanted to compete, even if I had to redshirt."