With a Trojans’ postseason win in the books, and for whatever it’s worth, the wide receiver’s self-appointed deadline has been stretched out a bit.
In the immediate aftermath of USC’s 45-20 trouncing of Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday, Lee said that he will make a decision on returning to the Trojans (highly unlikely) or making an early jump to the NFL (very likely) “within the next two weeks.” The junior said he would consult with, among others, new head coach Steve Sarkisian and athletic director Pat Haden.
The deadline for draft-eligible players to declare their NFL intentions is mid-January.
If as expected Lee makes the early leap to the NFL, the true junior is projected to be one of the first receivers taken. In what could be his final season at this level, though, Lee has battled both injuries and a coaching change in what’s easily been the worst of his three seasons in the Land of Troy.
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 had just 50 catches and two touchdowns this season entering the bowl game. He had caught two or fewer passes in three of the nine games he’s played this year; that had happened just four times in 25 career games entering 2013.
In what could very well be his final game as a Trojan, Lee totaled seven receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Bulldogs. The yards and scores were season highs, while the catches were tied for his most (twice) since eight in the season opener Aug. 29 against Hawaii.