Gamecocks' Lattimore familiar with Noles

Everett Dawkins did everything he could to make sure that the only time he would be tackling Marcus Lattimore would be in Florida State's practices. Lattimore, rated as the nation's top high school football player in 2009, visited the FSU campus but narrowed his choices to South Carolina and Auburn before eventually choosing the Gamecocks.

Dawkins and Lattimore were teammates at Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C.

"We were working real hard at it," said Dawkins, a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle. "I thought he liked it at first, but I think with his family situation and everything he wanted to stay close to home. He picked a good school though. He's doing good."

Good is an understatement. Lattimore has made a smooth transition to college football, rushing for 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Lattimore is also a threat to catch the ball with 26 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns. His 19 total TDs are one short of the Southeastern Conference freshman record.

Dawkins saw Lattimore's talents early. He said Lattimore ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash just months before his freshman year of high school. Lattimore ran for more than 60 touchdowns his final two seasons at Byrnes.

Is it going to be weird tackling his old buddy from Byrnes?

"No, it's going to be fun," Dawkins said with a smile. "If I get to him."

That's been the challenge for the better part of the season. Lattimore had three touchdowns in the 35-21 win over No. 1 Alabama in October and had 212 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 36-14 rout of Florida in November.

But now he's coming off two rough games, a combined 132 rushing yards on 39 carries against Clemson and Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.

FSU is looking for its first 10-win season since 2003. South Carolina, meanwhile, is looking for its first 10-win season since 1984. Dawkins remembers when Steve Spurrier arrived in Columbia, S.C., in 2005, and he joked that the Head Ball Coach had a heavenly impact.

"It was like Jesus came down to earth," Dawkins said. "It definitely was. A lot of hype around it.

"They did pretty good this year. In the past, they haven't really exceeded expectations. This year they really stepped it up."

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