LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The Biletnikoff Award is presented at the end of the college football season to the nation's top receiver. Would you believe, when the preseason watch list was released, notably absent, was USC's Marqise Lee? Lee has now gone from a one-time afterthought to the winner of the hardware.
"My heart was beating so fast," Lee explained, "like once they said ‘okay, next is the Biletnikoff,' I'm like ‘oh my gosh' so my heart was racing."
With a thumping chest, it was no doubt a rest for what are usually racing legs. Lee accepted the award in front of some of the biggest names both past and present in college football.
"I wasn't even that nervous," Lee fibbed "Yeah I was! I was. I was very nervous. I really had to think about what I was going to say throughout the whole time."
It seemed to be a much tougher situation for Lee than any game this season, as he made it look so easy on his way to catching 112 passes for over 1,600 yards, including 14 touchdown receptions.
"Once I won, it was like all my teammates came to mind, from Robert to Barkley, the linemen especially, maintaining their blocks and everything," he said.
"It really shows what a dominant season that he had," said Coach Lane Kiffin. "To go from like you said, not being on that list to winning it."
Lee is the first Trojan in the 18-year history of the award to bring home the trophy. It's an accomplisment receivers Coach Tee Martin says is possible because of Lee's outstanding work ethic.
"I was elated for him," Martin explained. "The hard work he put in to get to that point. Started last spring, when I first got here and I just noticed something different in his preparation and you couldn't ask for a better person for that award to be awarded to."
"I'm always representing USC," said Lee. "So you've always got to make sure you've got a positive mindset… I was a representative and in that case, earning this award was very important, for the Biletnikoff at least somebody finally won it and that's for everybody. I won this trophy for everybody before me, including Robert [Woods]. Robert I feel like deserves it. He did an amazing job this year and the years before and that's just for everybody else.
And getting back to those nerves Lee was talking about, he said the worst part of the ceremony was having to catch a ball on stage, from who else but Johnny [Manziel] Football.
"I was like, ‘What the! Catch the ball?! I haven't catched a ball in a long time!' so I was really nervous doing that cause I didn't want to drop the ball," he said laughing.
There's not doubt he'll have the opportunity to catch many, many more wearing cardinal and gold. Lee is only a true sophomore and he's got even bigger plans for 2013, including winning a second Biletnikoff and taking a December trip to New York City to win a trophy USC players are no stranger to, the Heisman.
Kevin Carden contributed to this video.