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Football foursome makes track debut

Receiver Marqise Lee thought about doing basketball once USC's football season ended late last November, since the seasons lined up fairly nicely and he had played the sport at Gardena Serra High.

Instead, he ended up in track and field -- which he also participated in as a prep. And he brought two other scholarship USC football players along with him in running back D.J. Morgan and cornerback Nickell Robey, joining cornerback/jumper Tony Burnett on the team.

The four all competed at Saturday's Rossi Relays on the campus of Claremont McKenna, the first track meet of the 2012 season for the Trojans. Running as USC's 'C' team in the 4x100-meter relays, they finished third among 16 competing teams with a time of 41.05, two-thirds of a second off the pace of the winners, USC's 'A' team.

In other events, Lee finished second in the long jump with a mark of 24 feet, four inches. The first-place holder in that category was Giorgio Bryant, the Division II long-jump champion in 2011. Robey was sixth with his 22 feet, nine inch mark and Burnett fouled on all four of his attempts.

Burnett, who came to USC as a trackster and then walked on to the football team, also fouled on three of his triple-jump attempts, but his fourth won him the event with a mark of just over 49 feet.

Morgan was a state champion in the 110-meter high hurdles at Woodland Hills Taft but did not compete in that event on Saturday. Lee did the long jump, triple jump and short sprints in high school, as did Robey.

With USC spring practice beginning March 6, the players will have to coordinate football and track time to keep it under the NCAA-mandated maximum for hours per week.

Burnett called that process "a little hectic" a year ago, as he sometimes participated in both football practice and track meets on Saturdays.