Marqise Lee nearly became a Duck. Oregon pursued the incredibly elusive and dangerous receiver right up to Signing Day. He made an official visit to Eugene November 5, 2010, the weekend of a 53-16 victory over Washington. Chip Kelly and the staff maintained contact all through recruiting, but the Serra High product followed former teammate Robert Woods to USC, committing on Signing Day, February 2, 2011.
In the two seasons since Lee has been a formidable Duck nemesis, torching the Oregon secondary for 20 catches, 344 yards, and three touchdowns. He's also returned 14 kickoffs for 355 yards, a 25.5 yard average, with a long return of 82 yards. When the Ducks lost to SC 38-35 in 2011, effectively ending the Webfoots national title hopes, Lee was the star, relentless and unstoppable.
Jordan Conn of Grantland has a story on the remarkable Trojan receiver. Growing up in the poorest, most crime-ridden sections of Los Angeles, Lee was in and out of foster care, exposed early to gang violence, often separated from his siblings, his mother deaf and his father absent. One of his brothers died in a gang shooting. The details are searing.
Before you boo another opponent, or rip a kid for choosing another school, please read this story. It puts a human face on poverty, neglect and despair, and also celebrates how one supremely talented individual escaped misery through sheer endurance and determination.
It's a stunning read, a reminder that some of the young people we alternately cheer and scorn have travelled roads fans can barely imagine from the comfort of a stadium chair.