As if anybody needed anymore proof that the University of Southern California Trojans had a young talented team in 2011, the Football Writers Association of America named two Trojans to the Freshman All-America team.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Dion Bailey and true freshman wide receiver Marqise Lee made the All-America team and help represent the only team in the country to place two All-American freshmen on the offensive and defensive lists.
Safety to linebacker
Bailey came out of Lakewood High School in Southern California as a Prep Star All-American. Bailey was redshirted his first year as a safety but when spring practice came in 2011, the Trojans moved the 6'0" 200 pounder to outside linebacker. And what a move Lane Kiffin and the coaching staff at USC made.
Arguably, Bailey could be considered the most valuable player on the defense for 2011. He started 11 of 12 games and led the team in solo tackles. Possibly his breakout game was against Cal in San Francisco when he snatched two interceptions and also forced a fumble. There's been continuous talk about moving him back to safety but if the light-but-quick 19 year old can handle the beating, linebacker just may be where he stays.
As much as Bailey was a surprise, maybe Lee was even a bigger one. As a true freshman, he came into fall camp a second fiddle, so to speak, as he wasn't even the best wide receiver from his own high school (Serra in Gardena California). Maybe the most touted player to come out of high school last year was George Farmer. But for whatever reasons, Farmer didn't adjust to college ball quickly enough … but his teammate Lee did.
The 6'0" 190 pounder was a prep All-American but it wasn't clear where he would play. In fact, the Trojans were thinking of playing him in the defensive backfield (source - ESPN). USC had a great quarterback/receiver combination in Matt Barkley to Robert Woods. Woods would become an All-American in 2011 and some of the thanks must go to Lee, his former teammate at Serra High School. Yes, it's mind-boggling to consider Woods, Farmer and Lee were all receivers at Serra in 2009.
Anyway, Lee would end up with 1143 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. What some may have noticed in the final games of 2011 was that Lee had surpassed Woods as the lead wide receiver and the numbers don't lie. In the last four games, Lee totaled 609 yards and six touchdowns, while adding an 88 yard kick return for another touchdown.
It should be noted, CBS Sports honored offensive guard Marcus Martin and placekicker Andre Heidari along with Bailey and Lee as Freshman All-American's.
Yes, the men of Troy came into the 2011 season young but talented and the player's results certainly proved the talent.
Sources - University of Southern California, ESPN
Daryle W. Hier lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC, having followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!