For Marqise Lee, the only way for him to become the Trojans' greatest receiver of all time is to continue his production through 2013. As it stands right now the Trojans receiver is one of many great pieces and he is still building his legacy; the time to reflect on where he ranks in the pantheon of greatness is when he's done writing the USC chapter of his book.
As the LA Times reports, the Trojans' head coach is not shying away from the early comparison, regardless of how far Lee has to go with his career:
Lane Kiffin said it near the end of last season, repeated it in the spring and summer and didn't back down in the run-up to USC's season opener:
Marqise Lee has a chance to be the best receiver in Trojans history.
Kiffin upped the ante Saturday after the sophomore bolted into the Heisman Trophy discussion with an electrifying performance in USC's 49-10 victory over Hawaii.
"He'll be the best one ever," Kiffin said.
High praise from a head coach who knows what he's talking about. Regardless of the metric by which you wish to assess greatness; NFL Draft placement, record books, All-American status or leading the team to big wins, Lee has a ways to go.
The kid is just one game into the second of his career. The kid is thirteen games into a career. At the maximum, he's a third of the way into his career. More likely he's less than that third, with bowl games and a couple possible Pac-12 title games driving the total up.
While 2012, barring injury to himself, Matt Barkley or Robert Woods, looks to be going great; he's got a Heisman candidate quarterback and the nation's premier receiver opposite him. It is 2013 that will prove Lee's greatness. In 2013, he loses Barkley and Curtis McNeal, likely loses Woods, Silas Redd, plus the offensive line absorbs some hits in a season that will see the Trojans turnover the roster.
If Lee is to prove Kiffin correct, 2013 is going to be the proving ground as a new quarterback starter steps in and Lee will be hoping that a complimentary receiver emerges; as he did for Robert Woods in 2011.
For now? Shelve the talk. The Trojans have unfinished business and if, en route to the achieving their goal, Lee takes more steps towards greatness then so be it. However, with Robert Woods on the team and a roster eyeing the crystal football, Marqise Lee just needs to keep letting the game come to him; as he has throughout his young career.