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Marqise Lee in the dark when it comes to USC's next quarterback


CULVER CITY, Calif. -- If you would think anyone had some special insight as to who will replace Matt Barkley as USC's starting quarterback, it would have to be junior wide receiver Marqise Lee, right?

Lee is the new face of the program, found on the cover of the Trojans' media guide and other marketing materials. He is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender and one of the people that will be most responsible for determining if head coach Lane Kiffin makes it to a fifth season.

Turns out, not even the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner as the top receiver in the college ranks knows who will be throwing him the ball in a few weeks' time.

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"I wish I knew now," a smiling Lee said at Pac-12 media day. "I ask Kiffin all the time, but Coach Kiffin don't give me nothing. Nothing."

Redshirt sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler and true freshman Max Browne are all competing to succeed Barkley, the only four-year starter in the storied history of USC and the Pac-12 leader in career touchdown passes.

Wittek started two games last season after Barkley was injured and didn't fare well in losses to Notre Dame and then Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, completing less than half of his passes with two touchdowns against six interceptions.

Lee has been working out with all three candidates during player-organized summer workouts and believes that he can quickly fine-tune the rapport once a starter is named.

"You can do it within the first week," Lee said. "I've thrown with you enough, so we just need to sit down and talk about how you feel, how you want me to run these things.

"It's all about time, and during camp you got all the time."

Kiffin did announce that he would continue to call plays for the offense, as he has since replacing Pete Carroll in 2010. There had been speculation during the spring that Kiffin might cede those duties to offensive coordinator Clay Helton as part of a staff shakeup in the wake of a disastrous 2012 season that saw the Trojans fall from preseason pick to win the BCS title to a 7-6 record.

And Lee's reaction to that decision by Kiffin?

"That's cool with me," Lee said.

"Y'all learned just like I did."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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