South Carolina Football: Making the Heisman Case for Marcus Lattimore

DJ BatchlerCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2010

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 11: Tailback Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates with teammates after his second quarter touchdown during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

There are no true freshman Heisman Trophy winners in the history of that illustrious prize. There haven't been many true freshmen like Marcus Lattimore. You can throw out stats, but stats don't always tell the whole story. Situational stats but most importantly results are what actually matter in football.

In a fantasy football minded world big numbers are more important than actual production. You can win a fantasy game or even a fantasy league, with a roster full of players on below average teams with losing records. Mistake free and productive football are much more important on the field than they are sitting on an office chair, looking at a computer screen.

There aren't many players who have made a bigger difference in the nation than Marcus Lattimore. Those that have are higher on the list. Denard Robinson, LaMichael James, and Cam Newton have a Lattimore type impact. In a few instances, they are one man teams.

Marcus Lattimore as a true freshman hasn't just changed the South Carolina offense, he's changed the entire team, as well as the perception of the team. When it comes to South Carolina, defenses usually don't respect both rushing and passing. Now they simply have to.

Lattimore has to be accounted for. In the running game and the passing game. Marcus Lattimore also makes Brian Maddox and Kenny Miles better runners. If Lattimore isn't in the game the defensive mind set switches to protect against the pass. That makes the capable Miles and Maddox potentially deadly. As well as Ace Sanders and Patrick DeMarco who can handle the ball as well.

Having a back like Marcus Lattimore opens things up, not only for other rushers, but for the passing game as well. Another Heisman possibility on the team is Alshon Jeffery, but Lattimore makes his streak of 100 yard receiving games more possible.

Defenses have to watch for the possibility of the run, and screens to Lattimore. Allowing Jeffery to have more opportunities in one on one coverage. His 6'4 frame comes in handy in those situations. Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore are not only important to the team, but also to one another.

Lattimore is also showing that he has the ability, and equally important, desire to block and make the offense work, as well as give his quarterback more time behind an average offensive line. Lattimore's physicality is unquestionable. When running he doesn't shy away from defenders.

His style of running is unique, but he seems to seek out defenders to lower the boom on. Much like last years Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Lattimore's feet do not stop moving. His eyes are never quiet and his mind is always working. He looks for a lane, and if there is one defender in that lane, he instantly decides to run around or through that defender.

Another testament to Marcus Lattimore's impact on the Gamecocks is that he allows the defense to play more freely. The defense knows that Marcus Lattimore can carry the load, chew clock and put the opponents offense in the hole. You can't argue Lattimore's impact as a true freshman. What's even more interesting is the possibility of what he can do in the future.

A largely overlooked trait is his maturity. He doesn't create distractions, when he scores a touchdown, the ball goes to the referee. It would be incredibly surprising to see Marcus Lattimore cost his team by getting flagged for excessive celebration, or unsportsmanlike conduct. He knows his role and he does his job.

Steve Spurrier reportedly told Marcus Lattimore that Spurrier needed a "big time back" to build his offense around and Marcus Lattimore was that big time back. Spurrier was arguably more aggressive and involved in recruiting Marcus Lattimore than any other player. There was a good reason, and in five games Lattimore is making that impact.