South Carolina’s own Mr. Football in 2009, Marcus Lattimore, would then decide to play his college career for the South Carolina Gamecocks and when he was on the field, he was that feature back that you feared if you were an opposing team or even just an opposing fan. Lattimore quickly burst onto the scene his freshman year against the rival Georgia Bulldogs, rushing for 182 yards on 37 carries and for 2 touchdowns. He proved early on as an 18 year old, that Spurrier and any future coach for that matter could hook their wagon to him and ride him to victories. Even though a concussion ended his Chick-Fil-A bowl game appearance early, he would still finish the season rushing for 1197 yards on 249 carries and 17 touchdowns. Lattimore would be named the NCAA Freshman of the Year and an obvious selection to the All-Freshman Team.
From there, Lattimore would be bitten by the injury bug over his next two seasons, ending them prematurely. In his sophomore year, against Mississippi State, he would tear a knee ligament and leave the game, being done for the year. His junior year would finish all the same, he started out having another great season after recovering from the knee injury before, to only have his year ended by another freak injury. He would dislocate his knee, tearing knee ligaments, against the Tennessee Volunteers in a very gruesome injury. His career would come to an end after announcing this year he would enter the NFL Draft. He would finish with 2677 yards rushing on 555 carries and 38 touchdowns and 74 catches, 767 yards and 3 touchdowns in only 29 games.
These injuries in his career have garnered the main attention from the NFL Scouts and made them put his career in the back of their minds. Although unfair it seems, you do have to question the durability issues, but look at guys like Adrian Peterson and Willis McGahee, these guys came back from bad knee injuries the next season to be very good/great backs. That’s what Lattimore is very much focused on at this point, doing the best he can to rehab and get on the field for the next NFL season and I don’t see why he can’t do it. If it’s one thing you can evaluate him on right now, it’s his work ethic and his character. Whether you are a Gamecock or not, you have to pull for this guy and can’t help but want him to succeed in the NFL.
Lattimore has all the tools that you could ask for in any running back. He stands at 6’0 and weighs 218 pounds, and is very much a power back, but do not under estimate his speed. He does have to ability to break it once in the open field. He has very good vision and ability to use his blockers to create more running lanes and bigger lanes for him to run through. He is a very smart runner in between the tackles and naturally very tough to bring down in between the tackles and in the open field. Although he is more of an upright runner, he knows how to lower his shoulder and run through potential tacklers. His best quality though, is his dedication to be great and prove he can once again be an every down back. A perfect teammate and a great locker room guy, no worries about him being a disruption, a very underrated quality in a player but nonetheless a very important one. His one big red flag though, is his durability and brings his NFL potential into question.
Even with those injury concerns, he is a projected 3rd-4th round pick and could even be a 2nd round pick if the right team just can’t pass him up. Lattimore would be a steal for any team that needs some running help. If not for the injury concerns, he would be a top 5 or top 10 pick for sure. If he can put these injury problems in the past, he has the potential to be one of the best in the game.