The battle for Lattimore's back-up

As the season draws nearer, the battle at running back seems to be more clear. Lattimore is the clear number one and it appears Miles is starting to pull ahead of Carson and Wilds for the back-up spot. Also, freshman receiver Brent speaks out on the recent praise he received from his head coach.

When you have a guy like Marcus Lattimore running the football, it's easy to be the forgotten man and get lost in the depth chart. That's the place Kenny Miles found himself in last season. Many people don't remember that Miles was the favorite to start entering the 2010 season. And why not? Miles was coming off a freshman campaign where he led the team in rushing with 640 yards on 117 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry, all team highs.

Most thought it would only be a matter of time before Lattimore took the starting job away from Miles last season. Arguably the top recruit in the nation coming out of high school, Lattimore had all the tools to make the transition to the college game. Few knew that Lattimore was going to take over the first game of the season. That left Miles battling for the back-up role with senior Brian Maddox, a battle he would ultimately lose. Miles would get the start in the Vanderbilt, but it would be Maddox that got the attention with a career-high 146 yards and the game-clinching touchdown. Miles would finish the year with just 162 yards on 40 carries, only fifth best on the team. Back-up quarterback Connor Shaw rushed for more yardage than Miles.

Entering this season Miles figured to be the clear number two guy, but that was before Shon Carson got a chance. Carson has been impressive in fall camp and has closed the gap, but running back coach Jay Graham still gives the nod to Miles.

"Kenny's done well - he's played in games - so obviously he's in that position where he could easily be the number two guy," Graham said after Tuesday's practice.

Carson and Brandon Wilds have battled for the number three spot with the other taking a redshirt. Even though Carson has put up some good numbers thus far, Graham still isn't sure who will receive the redshirt.

"As we get closer we'll talk about it as a staff - probably the next 10 days or so," Graham said. "We're still 18 days away from the first game so we still have a little time."

Whoever wins that battle will have to prove they're capable of being a contributor on offense.

"(They) Understand the offense enough to go on a series, understand the pass protection, catching the ball in the open field," Graham said. "All the things that running backs have to do to help our offense be successful."

Meanwhile, there's absolutely no doubt who the top guy is. Lattimore is coming off the best season a freshman running back has ever had at South Carolina and has earned preseason All-American honors and some Heisman Trophy talk.

Lattimore has had a fall camp that most people would expect. He hasn't gotten the ball a lot - did not record a rush in Saturday's first scrimmage - but he has played to stay in game shape.

"He's been in scrimmages, he's been tackled," Graham said. "I think he works hard enough that he doesn't have to get tackled all the time. He's probably had 20-30 live plays. That's the most important thing for him - have great pad level, work hard, understand the offense - and not so much getting tackled."

Though Lattimore hasn't received a lot of carries in scrimmage scenarios, he has been knocked around a bit to shake the rust off and get ready for the season opener which is just over two and a half weeks away.

"We're pretty intense when we're not going live and I think that's the most important thing," Graham said. "Defensively they're doing a good job of fitting up so it's not walk-through out there. It's full speed and you can get knocked down in those full-speed drills."

Right now the depth chart appears to be Lattimore, Miles, Carson, and Wilds, but two through four are all subject to change starting with Wednesday's scrimmage.

"We've got a scrimmage tomorrow," Graham said. "I think we're going to kind of let it play itself out."

Brent receives praise from Spurrier

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier recently compared freshman receiver K.J. Brent to one of his former Florida receivers. Anytime a receiver is compared to a former Gator is a good thing. When it's Chris Doering it's even better.

Doering was a hometown hero who played for Spurrier down in Gainesville from 1991-1995. Doering received very little attention out of high school, walking on to the Gator football team in 1991. Doering redshirted his freshman year, but earned a scholarship for the remainder of his career. Doering caught 149 passes (sixth most in school history), for 2,107 yards (tenth best in school history), and 31 touchdowns (most in Gator history).

If Brent becomes anywhere near the type receiver Doering was, he will be fun to watch over the next four seasons.

"I actually did not know that until just now, so that's pretty exciting for me," Brent said when asked what he thought about Spurrier's comment. "I've seen him in highlights and classics. He's pretty good."

Brent enrolled in May to get a head start on the playbook, but didn't enroll with any expectations.

"I didn't have any expectations to play, redshirt or anything," Brent said. "I just wanted to learn quick and see if I can produce and contribute to the team."

Brent has quickly garnered attention the last week of practice. Brent has gotten open and caught virtually everything thrown his direction. That has quickly thrust him into consideration for playing time this season. It has been quite adjustment for Brent, but he seems to be catching on.

"Mainly the speed," Brent said. "High school is nowhere near SEC speed. I remember the first time we wore pads, the first snap Antonio Allen went right off the snap. I said I have to get quicker so that's probably the biggest transition."


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