LOS ANGELES—The Trojans' spring game is over and now the four-month countdown until the first college football game of the season kicks off on August 29 has started.
It's 137 days, if you're counting—and we are—until USC travels to the tropical paradise of Hawaii.
And when every Trojan football player packs his bags and boards the plane for that long five-and-a-half-hour flight over the blue Pacific Ocean, who is the guy that takes over the plane and gets the team focused?
Who is that one guy who gets the respect of every player on both sides of the ball because of his work ethic and camaraderie?
Usually, the quarterback takes on that role, but USC's starting quarterback—whoever gets the nod—won't have a lot of experience as a starter. Quarterback Matt Barkley was a four-year team leader while at USC but he's gone—so is the heart of the team, center Khaled Holmes. Somebody needs to step up.
And somebody did at USC's spring game on Saturday.
The Trojans' third-year receiver has demonstrated why he is the leader of this team. Lee offered his services as a defensive back to head coach Lane Kiffin last October but with a condition—he wanted to make sure that he also wouldn't miss any snaps on the offense.
Yes, he has shown that he's willing to sacrifice his body for the well-being of the team, and that's noble and all, but what else has Lee done that makes him such a born leader?
Lee doesn't want to drop one ball this season. Think about that while you read this and weep.
I'm going to make it happen. Going through the season without dropping the ball. Me? It's possible. That is one of my goals. Even if I do drop a ball, I'm not going to drop one after that.
Two things jump out at you when you read that quote made at the Trojans' post-spring game presser. Is he serious (he is) and is that possible (we're not sure)?
And then it hits you like a lightning bolt: Has this ever been done before at the college level?
Honestly, I'll go out on a limb and say no. But who cares? The very fact that a football player's goal is to be perfect sets a very high bar for himself—and wait for it—everybody else on the team.
Think the quarterback isn't going to deliver catchable balls every time Lee is the target? Who wants to be the quarterback that throws a difficult pass a little behind Lee? And watch Lee drop it.
Live with that, Max Browne, Cody Kessler or Max Wittek.
Look, it's a lofty goal, Lee's goal is, but you have to like the chutzpah behind it. And let's be clear here—it's not a promise. It's a goal. So no Tebow tears here. No Tebow promises. Like Tebow, Lee doesn't have any arrogance in his persona—he just wants to set the standard high. He just wants to win.
Sure, it seems like the impossible dream—it is the impossible dream—and we'll certainly keep tabs on his progress.
But if Lee does make good on his goal...my goodness.
It's sheer perfection. Literally.
And Lee's quest to be perfect could be just the spark that USC needs to erase the misery of 2012 and start a new dynasty.
Don't settle for good. Don't settle for very good.
Set your sights on being perfect. Nobody's perfect, and we don't expect Lee to be perfect, but it will be fun watching him try.
He's a natural born leader.
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