Marqise Lee to stick to receiver

Marqise Lee tried, even though he knew he was bound to fail.

He propositioned coach Lane Kiffin to let him play cornerback last week, following the Trojans' continued struggles at the position. He told him he could play defense while still logging almost every snap on offense -- and on special teams.

Kiffin mulled it over for a few days before saying Tuesday that Lee will stay only as a receiver for the time being.

"I knew he wasn't going to agree with it, but it was worth a try," Lee said Tuesday. "Wherever the team needed me, that was really the focus. That was the idea -- something that was thrown out there."

Did he think his coach ever gave it serious thought?

"No," Lee said.

Third in the country in catches with 52 through five games, Lee has played his way into the conversation for the title of most dynamic receiver in the country. He's also been quarterback Matt Barkley's No. 1 target, with seven touchdown grabs already and an 83-yard scoring reception last week against Utah.

That's the reason why Kiffin's refusing to play him on defense -- not because he doesn't think he can do it.

"It'd be hard to take him off the field on offense," Kiffin said Tuesday. "He is so valuable on the reps where the ball doesn't go to him, based on the defenses that are called."

Kiffin first brought up the idea on Friday, saying Lee had mentioned it to him on the plane ride home from Utah on Thursday night. As recently as Sunday, he said he was still entertaining the idea.

But he squashed it on Tuesday, at least temporarily. Lee will not be playing cornerback in the immediate future -- although he probably would be pretty good at it if he did do it.

"If he wanted to play defense, he'd be a first-round corner," Kiffin said.