Marcus Lattimore: 5 Things You Need to Know About the South Carolina RB
Marcus Lattimore is one of the most intriguing players in the draft this year. Just as catastrophic injuries hurt the draft stock of players like Willis McGahee and Adrian Peterson’s draft stock, Lattimore’s career is also in serious doubt because of a devastating setback that occurred from a broken leg.
But despite the injury, Lattimore is one of the most well-rounded and naturally talented running backs in the draft. He could very well be an elite starter for a decade, or he could never see the field.
Because of the high risk/reward nature of Lattimore, he’s been one of the most talked about prospects in this year’s draft, and it's a question mark where he’ll end up being drafted.
Full Name: Marcus Lattimore (10/29/1991)
Hometown: Duncan, South Carolina
High School: Duncan Byrnes
Major: Public Health
Lattimore was a star in high school, becoming ESPN’s Junior Football Player of the Year in 2008, as well as South Carolina’s Mr. Football in his senior year. He was an All-American that final year, and was the top running back prospect on both Rivals and Scout.com.
Auburn University made a strong push to sign Lattimore, but on signing day the senior from Duncan, South Carolina decided to stay in state and join the Gamecocks and head coach Steve Spurrier. Lattimore, who has soft hands and is a very good route runner, thought that Spurrier’s passing offense would be the best fit to utilize both his rushing and receiving abilities.
Rushing and Receiving
2010: 13 games, 249 attempts, 1,197 rushing yards, 4.8 ypc, 29 catches, 412 receiving yards, 19 total TDs
2011: 7 games, 163 attempts, 818 rushing yards, 5.0 ypc, 19 catches, receiving 182 yards, 11 total TDs
2012: 9 games, 143 attempts, 662 rushing yards, 4.6 ypc, 26 catches, 173 receiving yards, 11 total TDs
When he’s on the field, Lattimore has been incredibly productive. In 2010, his sole (mostly) healthy year, Lattimore was first in the SEC in total yards from scrimmage with over 1600 yards.
He earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors four times in his injury-riddled career, and was generally thought to be a Heisman Trophy candidate before injuries cut his sophomore and junior years short.
Lattimore was particularly successful against Georgia, against whom he rushed for 467 yards and four touchdowns in just three games.
Weight: 221 pounds
Arm length: 32 1/2”
Hands: 9 7/8”
Combine/Pro Day Results
Due to his recovering from season-ending knee injury, Lattimore did not take part in any official workouts (at either the NFL combine or South Carolina’s pro day), but did run a few agility drills for scouts at his pro day.
Lattimore is a prototypically built running back: big, low to the ground and tough to bring down. His frame is fine, and wouldn't be assumed to be prone to injury. Much like Adrian Peterson, you have to wonder if his knee injuries in college were simply freak accidents that he can overcome.
Similarly to Willis McGahee’s gruesome injury in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl, Lattimore’s right knee was wrecked by Tennessee defensive back Eric Gordon. Like McGahee, Lattimore suffered multiple ligament tears in his knee. Lattimore has spoken to McGahee several times about the recovery process and hopes to bounce back to a successful career much like the 10-year NFL vet.
Lattimore was highly sought after as a senior in high school, with over 30 colleges attempting to sign the talented halfback. But Lattimore’s mind was made up when Steve Spurrier and several other coaches visited his home about a week before signing day. Spurrier, in particular, was personable and entertaining, notably doing the cha-cha slide with Yolanda, Lattimore’s mother.
Lattimore’s knee injury this past season wasn’t his first torn ACL; he tore the ACL in his left knee during the seventh week of the 2011 season. The injury knocked him out of the rest of the way, but he made a fairly quick recovery and ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns during the first game of the 2012 season.
He also missed time during his freshman year with ankle issues and a concussion. Even with the injuries, however, Lattimore earned multiple awards, including the Associated Press’ SEC Freshman of the Year and All-SEC First Team.
Despite playing just seven games, the coaches voted Lattimore to the Associated Press All-SEC Second team.
Lattimore has impressed scouts and coaches immensely with his character and personality, and is incredibly well-liked. After his workout during his pro day, scouts and coaches gave him an ovation, an incredibly unusual response.
Lattimore doesn’t have elite speed or big play elusiveness as a runner that we’ve seen in most 1st round-graded running backs. However, Lattimore is a unique runner in that he does all of the “little things” at an extremely high and NFL-ready level. He possesses elite vision when working upfield, is very decisive in reading his blocks and linebackers at the second level, and has relatively zero hesitation as a runner, forcing linebackers to be over-aggressive and gamble at times. He attacks the hole quickly and with good pad level, and finishes runs upfield.
Taller north-south runner who plays with good lean to plow for yards between the tackles. Possesses vision and quick feet for his size to slide into a rushing lane and the speed to get upfield once finding the hole. Quite effective on zone runs when used in that capacity. Has the wiggle to freeze and elude tacklers to space. Spins off piles inside and keeps his legs churning to pick up the extra yard.
Lattimore is an extremely fluid pass catcher out of the backfield and is utilized on more than just screens and dump offs. Lattimore’s skill set as a receiver were used on a number of seam patterns and wheel routes in which he adjusted to the ball extremely well. Lattimore is an excellent hands catcher of the football, and I fully expect him to continue to thrive in this area.
Lattimore also projects as that true three-down feature back that has become a rare commodity in the NFL. He has soft hands out of the backfield, and he is an outstanding pass-blocker. Lattimore has the size and experience to be a reliable 300-carry back in the pros, and he doesn't need to be replaced in any situation.
He is also one of the hardest workers and strongest character players in the entire draft.
Lacks elite speed to consistently win the edge or out-run defenders. Strong durability concerns with two serious knee injuries the past two seasons and currently rehabbing a right knee injury from last October. Didn't look 100 percent this past season after his 2011 left knee injury and wore down late in games. Will he ever be able to return to form or will he a shell of what he once was?
Even though he shows solid technique in pass protection while engaged with defenders, Lattimore has a tendency to wait for them in the backfield opposed to meeting the defender in the hole. Lattimore has proven to be more than just a chip/cut blocker as he typically maintains a solid base, with his head up and rarely ever lunges. With that said, if he does not learn to meet his man in the hole, he’s going to have tremendous difficulty at the next level.
With back to back seasons ending in traumatic knee injuries, durability is a major red flag. There are also the questions of how his medicals will check out, and how much he will be able to contribute his rookie season. Even before his injuries, struggled to get into a second or third gear in order to break off longer gains.
Lattimore has very little weaknesses when it comes to NFL talent. The one thing that could be said about him is that he doesn't have elite top-end speed. What he does have is the power, vision, quickness, hands and just about everything else you would want in an NFL back.
Unfortunately, the one thing that holds him back is the one thing that could prove to be fatal to his entire career: health. Lattimore already has two knees that have suffered season-ending injuries. He's a quick healer, but if something like this happens again in the NFL, his career could end before it begins.