Wide Receiver/Return Specialist
University of Southern California Trojans
Gardena Junípero Serra High School
Morningside High School
The Trojans' standout receiver is the proud owner of 24 school records, in addition to setting five Pac-12 Conference marks, but coming off a sensational sophomore campaign, the receiver battled through left knee problems in 2013 that forced him to miss two games and being limited in several others.
The 2012 season saw the big-play specialist amass 2,683 all-purpose yards, the 15th-best figure in NCAA Football Bowl Championship history. His 118 receptions that year broke the school and conference records, placing 16th on the NCAA annual chart. He also set the USC and Pac-12 record with 1,721 receiving yards, the 15th-best figure in the NCAA.
The 2013 campaign saw his sophomore production cut in half. He managed just 57 catches, good for 791 yards, as he generated just 1,008 all-purpose yards. After reaching the end zone 15 times as a sophomore, Lee produced just four touchdowns in what would become his final college season.
Despite his injury issues, Lee closes out his Trojans career second in school history with 248 receptions, setting a USC record with 3,655 yards, as his 29 touchdown grabs rank fourth all-time. He is seventh on the career-record charts with fifty kickoff returns for 1,305 yards, as his average runback of 26.10 yards is third-best by a Trojan.
Both his reception and yardage totals are fourth in Pac-12 history, as his scoring grabs are tied for ninth on the conference chart.
Lee grew up in the rough area of Inglewood, California. Both of his parents, Elton Lee and Anfernee Williams, are deaf and he communicates with them via sign language. Lee had a difficult childhood. His father was not regularly involved in his life. The receiver spent the first 12 years of his life moving repeatedly between his mother and grandparents, both in low-income homes.
The frequent moves forced him to repeat a grade early in elementary school. While Lee finished sixth grade, his grandfather died and his grandmother moved to the housing projects in Baldwin Village, Los Angeles. Lee and his younger sister chose not to move with her and instead became wards of the state. His two older brothers were involved in gangs. One, Terreal Reid, was murdered in a gang-related killing and the other, Donte Reid, was imprisoned in Arizona on a count of attempted murder. Lee previously tried to join the same gang, but his brothers prevented it. His sister still lives in the Los Angeles area.
When Lee started high school at Morningside High School, in Inglewood, he was living in a foster home. He played on an Amateur Athletic Union basketball team the summer after his freshman year of high school and became friends with Steven Hester Jr., a high school student from Inglewood, attending the private Junípero Serra High School in Gardena, California. The Hester family liked Lee and, in September 2008, he moved in with them and began attending Serra. The Hesters became heavily involved in his life and continued to attend most of his games and practices at USC.
At Serra, Lee was a year behind a stand-out wide receiver Robert Woods, who also went to USC. As a junior in 2009, he made South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay first team while getting 89 tackles (with a sack), six interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Serra went 15-0 in 2009 and won the CIF Northwest Division title and the California state Division III championship.
Lee had 57 receptions for 1,409 yards (24.7 avg) with 24 touchdowns on offense in 2010 and 45 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass deflections on defense. Serra went 14-1 in 2010, won the CIF Western Division title and played in the California state Division II championship game. His 2010 honors included Parade, Super Prep, Prep Star, Under Armour and Max Preps All-American accolades.
Lee was also listed on the ESPNU 150, Prep Star Dream Team, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 and Max Preps All-State Division II first team.
Named the All-CIF Western Division Defensive MVP, SectionSports.com All-Southern Section second team, Los Angeles Times All-Star and South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay first team, Lee also received All-Mission League Defensive MVP as a defensive back.
The multi-sport talent also played basketball at Serra, where he made the 2010 South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay first team. He was a sprinter and jumper on the track team, producing a 2011 national prep third-best 24-8 long jump, plus career bests of 44-7 in the triple jump, 6-4 in the high jump, 10.74 in the 100 meters and 22.11 in the 200 meters.
Lee won the long jump and was second in the 100 at the 2011 CIF Division IV Meet, was third in the long and high jumps and fourth in the triple jump in the 2010 CIF Division IV Meet. He placed second in the long jump at the 2011 CIF Masters Meet and was second in the long jump at the 2011 California state meet. He was selected the 2010-11 Cal-Hi Sports Boys State Athlete of the Year and Cal-Hi Sports Boys Division IV Athlete of the Year.
In 2011, as a true freshman, Lee earned a starting job at wide receiver across from his former high school teammate Robert Woods. He finished the season with 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns. Due to sanctions, the 10-2 Trojans were prohibited from playing in either the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Championship game or a post-season bowl game.
The combined receptions by Lee and Woods (184) and receiving yards (2,435) in 2011 were the most by a pair of Trojans in a season. He also gained 285 yards on 10 kickoff returns that included an 88-yard score vs. Washington. He was awarded the Pac-12 Conference Freshman Offensive Co-Player of the Year Award and named to the All-Pac-12 second- team after finishing his first campaign with 1,461 all-purpose yards while ranking fifth in the league with an average of 95.25 yards per game receiving.
Against Arizona in 2012, Lee set the Pac-12 Conference record for receiving yards in a game with 16 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns. The following week, Lee had 251 return yards vs. Oregon, setting another conference record. He finished the season setting school and league records with 118 catches for 1,721 yards, adding 14 touchdowns to earn Pac-12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Lee was also the recipient of the 2012 Fred Biletnikoff Award as the top wide receiver in the nation, becoming the first Trojan to win the award. He was also a unanimous All-American and received the College Football Performance Awards National Wide Receiver of the Year Trophy. He closed out his sophomore campaign leading the league and ranking third nationally with 2,683 all-purpose, the school and league record.
Lee also competed on the USC track and field team in the spring, competing in the long jump and sprint relay. During his freshman season, he won the long jump event at the Trojan Invitational, which included defending NCAA champion Texas A&M and took part in the Texas Relays. Lee placed seventh in the NCAA Prelimary Round for long jump, qualifying to participate in the NCAA Championships where he placed 17th. As a member of USC's sprint relay squad he ran the leadoff leg on a team that included fellow football teammates D.J. Morgan, Nickell Robey and Tony Burnett.
While injuries forced Lee to miss considerable action in 2013, he performed well when not dealing with nagging knee issues. Among his 57 catches, 32 were good for first downs and he converted 11 third-down tosses and another on a fourth-down snap. He had thirty catches for gains of at least 10 yards, including nine for twenty yards or longer, but after a seven-catch, 118-yard, two-touchdown performance vs. Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, he would bring a close to his college career.
On January 3rd, 2014, Lee announced that he had decided to give up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. "I have decided to forego my senior season at USC and declare for the 2014 NFL Draft," tweeted Lee. "I want to thank my coaches, teammates, staff and the entire Trojan Family for all of the support over the last three seasons. I am a proud Trojan and will remain a Trojan for life!"
Lee started 32-of-36 games at Southern California, catching 248 passes for 3,655 yards (14.74 ypc) and 29 touchdowns…Gained 1,305 yards with two touchdowns on 50 kickoff returns (26.10 avg)…Rushed 24 times for 146 yards (6.08 avg) and gained 46 yards on eight punt returns…Also recorded three solo tackles and recovered a fumble, as he finished with 5,152 all-purpose yards, an average of 143.11 yards per game