I wrote the story about Marcus Lattimore, making my points that recruits should stay in-state if given the choice. The closer to home, the more parents can be involved. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/330742-marcus-lattimore-big-decision-auburn-or-south-carolina
I had never written about a recruit before, but something pushed me to single him out. I knew what he would do for his home state if he chose the Gamecocks. I also knew Auburn’s rich history of putting running backs in the NFL.
I wrote a story, talked about it on a couple of sports radio programs, and uploaded my interviews to YouTube. My story and videos got a lot of traffic and comments, both positive and negative.
One night, the phone rang. “This is Marcus Lattimore’s step father. Can I talk to you about your article?”
Marcus is the top running back recruit in the country. Every major college wanted him, and coaches were calling around the clock. The family had issued a freeze for the media, but the coaches were still calling.
Even the teams that had been eliminated were still calling Marcus, his Mom, his step dad, and his sister.
I found myself in the late hours of the night talking to a father, not as a sports writer, but as a father. He said he had seen my videos and he felt he could trust me, and that I would shoot him straight.
I knew both schools well. The next few hours, two fathers discussed all the positives and negatives of two great schools—Auburn and South Carolina.
My article had resonated with the step-father. My videos touched him and Marcus. A lot hung in the balance. Marcus’ decision would greatly impact two coach's careers.
Steve Spurrier would have been criticized for losing an in-state star. For Gene Chizik, signing Marcus could move his class to No. 1 in the country.
Over the next few days, both coaches came and went for their last home visits. The father would again call me and talk about the experience. Sometimes we talked football, other times we just talked.
On Sunday, he invited me to come down and spend Monday with the family, the same day Marcus would be announcing his school of choice. I knew having some time with a big recruit would be memorable.
When I arrived in Duncan, South Carolina, I knew two fan bases were dying to know which path Marcus would take. I found a house full of trophies and memories of a loving family.
Two hours before the announcement, Marcus was cool and calm. He played a game on Playstation.
I asked if he was playing South Carolina vs Auburn and and the winner would be his choice. He just laughed. A great, humble guy, but a competitor who has big dreams. I knew he had a great future.
We joined hands in the middle of the living room for prayer. I prayed for this family and Marcus, and that every step forward would be successful. We went to the church, which was half full two hours before the announcement.
So people ask me, why did Marcus go to South Carolina? Marcus told me every time he went to Columbia, he really enjoyed his time there. It just felt right.
Secondly, Steve Spurrier and staff worked very hard to have a relationship with his entire family. The entire family had to be in agreement on this one.
And finally, Stephen Davis told Marcus that he loved playing at Auburn, but his only regret was his family and friends didn’t get to share it with him in person.
His reasons confirmed why I wrote the story.
Until next time, I will see you on the ball field.
Here is my link to the Marcus Lattimore announcement taped from my camera.