USC: Marquis Dendy

One-on-one with Marqise Lee

June, 18, 2012

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire

USC receiver Marqise Lee didn't really play much receiver the last couple of months.

The star sophomore-to-be turned to track full-time after spring football came to an end and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the long jump, where he finished second among all freshmen in the country.

He finally returned to the football field last week, participating in unofficial throwing sessions with the Trojans on Tuesday and Friday and building back chemistry with quarterback Matt Barkley. We caught up with him after Friday's hour-long session:

Q: So you spent like six or seven weeks exclusively with track. Be honest: Did you feel like track athlete first, football player second for a while there?

A: I did. It's just the fact of once you're with a team for a while, you start to adjust to what they do, and that's exactly what I did. I know in my heart I'm always a football player, but while I was there I felt like, 'I'm a track athlete, and it's my job to help this team.' But track people were telling me I'm still a football player. At the end of the day, it's all the same.

Q: What about when you were in Iowa for the championships? Did you get a lot of people from across the country coming up to you, recognizing you? There weren't many other athletes there with your level of national notoriety. Did that make you stand out in any way?

A: Most people knew who I was, but they were focused on the fact that I was out there for track, not that I was just a football player. They gave me props sometimes, like, 'Oh, you did good this season,' and all that.

Q: Well, the guy who won your event was also a football player, right? Marquise Goodwin from Texas. And that brings me to another topic. There were three people with your name in the long jump (Florida's Marquis Dendy being the third), and all three were spelled differently. That doesn't happen very often.

A: Yep. It's crazy. At the track meet they kept saying, 'Marqise, Marqise, Marqise.' And I'd turn around and ..., 'Oh,' it wasn't for me. And that's not common at all for me.

Q: Do you think, in October or November, midway through the football season, you're going to be able to look back at your track season and say, 'I'm glad I did that?' And do you feel like it's going to make you a better football player too?

A: I'm pretty sure it is going to, just from the aspect of speed. I feel like I got way faster than what I was. I feel like last year people would tell me I was fast, but I never felt that fast. This year, I'm pretty sure I got way faster, and I think my jumping ability got a little bit better. And the long jump gives you a sense of urgency where you gotta jump without paying attention, just knowing when. And it's the same thing for football, when the ball's in the air. You don't have time to think about it. And track can help me with that.

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