USC Gamecocks Football: Will Marcus Lattimore Return to Form in 2012?

Brad Washington@@theGURO15Correspondent IIJuly 12, 2012

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 08:  Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

USC Gamecocks junior running back Marcus Lattimore tore his ACL against Mississippi State in the midst of a Heisman candidate-type season.

Before his season-ending injury, Marcus Lattimore rushed for 818 yards and eclipsed 10 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry.

Although the USC Gamecocks managed to win five of their last six games without their star tailback, Marcus Lattimore could have been very useful in their lone loss (in that span) against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

It’s 2012 and we’re gearing up for another crazy college football season. It  appears Marcus Lattimore is in full gear and ready to take on fall camp.

But can he be the same back that he was during his freshman year and the middle of his sophomore year?

We all know the ACL injury is one of the most devastating in sports. We’re currently hoping that dynamic Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose (suffered an ACL injury this past April) can come back full speed and healthy.

For Marcus Lattimore’s predicament, his knees are needed in making cuts, having a burst for acceleration and making split-second decisions.

We’ve all seen how Ryan Broyles went from a first-round pick to a second-round pick because of the same injury.  Marcus Lattimore has had nine months to recover and had less pressure to deal with because he just had to prep for August.

All in all, there is plenty to be excited about in Gamecock Country.

Connor Shaw finally relieved Gamecock fans of the headache that was Stephen Garcia. Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor will spearhead the defense, and a crop of talented freshman from a top-20 recruiting class are expected to contribute.

All the Gamecocks need is a healthy Marcus Lattimore and everyone in the program, from fans to coaches, can sleep easy.

It’s bittersweet to note that last season he was ready to surpass his rushing yards and touchdown stats that he displayed as a freshman phenom.

At 6'1" and 232 lbs, Lattimore is an old-school back with a mixture of Adrian Peterson; a very lethal combination now that his knee is ready to go.

Hopefully, Marcus Lattimore will be all ready to go August 30 versus Vanderbilt.