Marqise Lee at defensive back vs. Arizona State? Could happen, says Lane Kiffin

Stephen Dunn

National all-purpose yardage leader Marqise Lee is working on his secondary skills. Will he use them in a live game?

Everyone is talking about one USC thing. Lane Kiffin would prefer it if everyone were talking about some other USC thing. Here is a thing we can talk about:

This is after shooting down the idea just last month.

Marqise Lee, USC's only bona fide Heisman Trophy contender, indeed has some defensive back in his background. He was considered an athlete coming out of high school, and was considered more of a defender or a kick return specialist than a wide receiver by some schools.'s profile of him as a high schooler lists near-Heisman college triple-threat Champ Bailey as his ideal counterpart -- Bailey's one of the best cornerbacks ever at like every level of the sport, so not at all faint praise.

"If you wanted him to play defense, he'd be a first-round corner," Kiffin has said.

Lee already catches, returns kicks and occasionally rushes. He leads the country in all-purpose yardage. And he's also on USC's track team. Tiring him out isn't exactly the worry here. Exposing him to extra contact would be.

Asking him to also play some cornerback against an Arizona State receiving corps that boasts not a single wide receiver among the Pac-12's top 20 (they're more of a running backs-and-tight ends offense, you see, and they have a cluster of capable receivers that include deep threat Rashad Ross) wouldn't be the biggest challenge that could be heaped on him, and it's clear the Trojans need one answer or another after giving up 39 points and the biggest sum in school history in consecutive weeks. Especially with ASU's offense ranking No. 22 in the country in scoring.

Buuuuuut I can't help thinking that this is mostly just Lane Kiffin giving us something else to talk about. What do you think?

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