SEC Media Day 2012: Gamecocks' Statements on Marcus Lattimore Bode Well for 2012
Marcus Lattimore wasn't hanging out with his fellow South Carolina Gamecocks at the 2012 SEC Media Day, but there was plenty of chatter regarding the team's star running back.
Lattimore tore his left ACL last season in the fourth quarter of a game against Mississippi State on October 15, 2011. Including that game, Lattimore has rushed for 2,015 yards and found the end zone 27 times in just 20 college games.
Luckily for the Gamecocks and their fans, the talk regarding one of South Carolina's most important players was all positive.
South Carolina receiver Ace Sanders had this to say about Lattimore's progress (all quotes are via ESPN.com):
He looks like the old Marcus, in and out of cuts and sudden moves. Actually, he looks like he’s gotten bigger and stronger to me. He's right there with us every day. That lets you know that he's game ready.
According to the report, Lattimore has been putting a lot of time into making a timely return to the field. That hard work has paid off. Head coach Steve Spurrier said on Thursday that the star running back has been deemed 100 percent healthy.
That means he'll be ready to start preseason camp, and, barring any setbacks, should be ready for the regular season opener.
The entire dynamic of the Gamecocks offense changes when Lattimore is in the backfield, and Spurrier knows it:
We have more guys now. We’re a different team when Marcus is healthy, but I’ve got a feeling that Kenny Miles will play a little bit more than he did last year.
South Carolina must be absolutely giddy to see that Lattimore is on track to return before the season begins. Even without Lattimore, the team finished ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25.
How many games will the Gamecocks win next season?
Unfortunately, Spurrier lost Alshon Jeffery to the NFL, and will have to rely on the running game even more this upcoming season.
Lattimore's return will give the Gamecocks and "thunder and lightning" combination in the backfield. The 5'10", 193-pound Kenny Miles ran for just 204 yards on 54 carries last season, but he'll be helped by Lattimore's presence, a bruiser who stands at 6'1", 232 pounds.
The Duncan, South Carolina native played just seven of the Gamecocks 13 games last season, but still managed to rush for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns. Had he played an entire season, we likely would have been looking at the best running back in the SEC outside of Trent Richardson—but you could make an argument for either.
Certainty is a huge advantage for a team heading into the season, and the Gamecocks now have that with Lattimore's return on schedule.
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