Thanks to his immense talent level, it’s been a foregone conclusion for more than a year that Marqise Lee would leave USC early for the NFL. Thanks to myriad nagging injuries in 2013, that thought’s been further cemented in the minds of most draft observers.
For his part, though, Lee is only focused on the here and now at the moment even as an early jump remains inevitable.
Tuesday, the wide receiver told reporters that he hasn’t made a decision yet on returning to the Trojans for another season or making himself available for the April draft.
“I’ve been focusing on trying to leave all the outside stuff out,” Lee said. “Just focus on the weekend and actually getting the job done.”
Lee did not play against Colorado last Saturday, the third complete game he’s missed this season because of various knee and shoulder issues. He is, though, on track to play against archrival UCLA this weekend.
His first two seasons with the Trojans, Lee totaled 191 receptions and 25 touchdowns, including 118 and 14 in 2012. Because of the injuries — and Matt Barkley‘s departure — Lee has just 44 catches and two touchdowns. He’s caught two or fewer passes in three of nine games this season; that had happened just four times in 25 career games entering 2013.
Obviously the coaching staff wants him to return — even as they may not — with Lee’s position coach already getting his pitch to stay lined up.
“My deal for him is, ‘Do do you want to come back and try to see if you want to be a top-five pick?'” receivers coach Tee Martin said. “‘If just being a first-rounder is good for you, then go ahead.”
Big Ten media days begin today — nominally a time of celebration, optimism and free food in the conference.
This year’s gathering will take on the direct opposite feel, at least at the start, as the conference continues to reel from the tragic passing of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.
Ahead of the event’s official opening, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany released this statement:
“We join the Nebraska and Michigan State communities in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families, teammates, coaches, administrators and friends who have been impacted by the tragic loss of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler. While we are deeply saddened by their untimely loss, we also recognize the impact they had and the success they achieved as students, athletes, citizens and representatives of their respective communities and institutions. On behalf of the Big Ten, we greatly appreciate the enduring contributions made by these two young men, and our hearts go out to their families during this difficult time.”
Sadler concluded his Big Ten career in 2014 and was set to begin at Stanford Law School this fall. Foltz was still an active Husker.
Nebraska will skip this week’s festivities as it recovers from the beloved Foltz’s passing.
Iowa State senior cornerback Nigel Tribune was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested for OWI Sunday, according to the Des Moines Register.
Tribune, a former second-team All-Big 12 player, was pulled over in Ames just before 3 a.m. Sunday. From the Register’s story:
According to police, Tribune had watery and bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. He performed and failed field sobriety tests. A preliminary breath test showed a result of over .08 — the legal limit.
“We are aware of the charges filed against Nigel and we are in the process of gathering more information,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said Sunday in a statement. “Nigel has been suspended indefinitely from the football team under the student-athlete code of conduct policy.”
Tribune, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., had 37 tackles and seven pass break-ups in 2015.
DeShaun Watson is back from last year’s College Football Playoff runner-up, and with that, there was little debate in the ACC media poll about who will repeat as conference champions in 2016.
Clemson, with 144 votes, was picked to repeat as ACC champions in the conference’s annual media poll. Florida State (39), North Carolina (seven) and Louisville (one) also received votes.
Watson, the Tigers’ junior quarterback, was picked to be the ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (18), North Carolina running back Elijah Hood (four), Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (two), Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (two) and Duke cornerback/returner DeVon Edwards (one) also received player of the year votes.
Here’s how the voting broke down by division, with first-place votes in parentheses:
1. Clemson (148) – 1,293
2. Florida State (42) – 1,176
3. Louisville (1) – 961
4. NC State – 704
5. Boston College – 441
6. Syracuse – 426
7. Wake Forest – 347
1. North Carolina (121) – 1,238
2. Miami (50) – 1,108
3. Pitt (14) – 859
4. Virginia Tech (3) – 697
5. Duke (2) – 597
6. Georgia Tech (1) – 588
7. Virginia – 261
Former Arkansas running back Cedric Cobbs plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and other narcotics in a United States District Court on Thursday, but was granted a no-prison sentenced because Cobbs told the judge he is undergoing treatment for brain disease.
He was sentenced to three years of probation contingent upon continuing treatment for drugs and mental health counseling.
According to Eric Bolin of Arkansas News, Cobbs is a patient at The Crosby Center, an Escondido, Calif., treatment center that claims to be “recognized as one of the nation’s foremost sports treatment centers for helping athletes reclaim their lives.” Bolin writes Cobbs is battling CTE, which Boston University says may only be diagnosed posthumously.
Cobbs accumulated 3,018 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns as an Arkansas running back from 1999-03. He left school as the Hogs’ third-leading rusher and helped the club reach the 2002 SEC championship game. Cobbs won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and played for the Denver Broncos.
In addition to his 2014 indictment, Cobbs was arrested last July on a charge of first-degree promoting prostitution, where police found two meth pipes, meth and prescription pills in his car. Cobbs was also arrested in 2013 for prescription fraud and evading arrest. He was sentenced to probation for misdemeanor fleeing and drug fraud.
Substance abuse is a known symptom of CTE.