Every once in a while, there comes a story that grabs our attention and we can’t let it go until it’s been finalized. The Marcus Lattimore story grabbed me. The Byrnes athlete has burned up the record books in the Upstate of South Carolina.
Marcus has narrowed his decision to two teams, Auburn and South Carolina. Both schools finished the 2009 regular season 7-5.
I’ve watched these kind of decisions over the years and they are not as confusing once you take away the hype. I believe in this situation, the Auburn coaches are doing a better job of selling their program.
When all the dust has settled, you have your family and your friends. You want your family to be able to see you, encourage you, and be that rock when the times get tough. There are always trial periods, and it helps when you have hometown friends to lean on.
Any major decision has to include your family.
What’s the road trip?
If Lattimore chooses South Carolina, his mother and friends will have a one hour and 34 minute drive down to Columbia to get in the stands and cheer for their superstar.
Even for a night game, Mama can drive home safely and sleep in her own bed. If Marcus chooses Auburn, the drive is four hours and 45 minutes from Spartanburg through busy Atlanta to Auburn. Not exactly a day trip; night games would be out of the question.
Competition for Position
If Lattimore chooses Auburn, he will join five-star running back Michael Dyer, who is one of the highest recruited players in the country. In nearly every case, it is better to be the preferred running back on a team than to share the duties with another superstar.
At South Carolina, there is no front runner for the running backs. Probably immediate playing time for Lattimore if he chooses.
Thinking Long Term
At Georgia, Herschel Walker is loved and has made a nice living after football. He is seen as a Georgia kid and there is a lot of pride that he played for his in-state school and didn’t cross state lines and play at Clemson.
Knowshon Moreno was equally talented but had no roots in Georgia. He made the decision to leave for the NFL like a business decision. Moreno will never be regarded as highly as Herschel at the University of Georgia.
What can a football player do for his state?
Ask this question of the Miami Hurricanes. When the better players in the south Florida decided to stay closer to home, they literally re-built the city of Miami.
There is a huge economic impact that comes with a great football program. Economic impact means jobs for the people of your community.
There are few exceptions to explain leaving the state to play football. One would be a family member having strong ties to an out-of-state school. Another being that the out-of-state school offers a better education.
Third could be that no solid offers came from an in-state school.
Finally, a person may just want to be part of a great program; sometimes it is located out of state.
So here’s the deal. If this year’s War Eagle class commits, Auburn fans will be celebrating big on signing day with or without Lattimore.
Lattimore will make Steve Spurrier’s year by committing to the Gamecocks. If he goes West, Spurrier starts the decline.
For the superstar living in Birmingham that narrowed his choices between Auburn and South Carolina, same circumstances, my advice is go to Auburn. End of story.
Until next time, I will see you on the ball field.
Jay Holgate is a sports writer and motivational speaker based in Atlanta, GA. Jay can be heard on sports radio around the South.