Practice Report: Lattimore ready to go

Marcus Lattimore will suit up for the first time in over 10 months next week when ninth-ranked South Carolina opens the season up at Vanderbilt. Lattimore tore his ACL last October and missed the remainder of the season and spring, but is now 100% healthy and ready to go.

No leg has gotten more attention than the left leg of Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore tore his ACL last season against Mississippi State and made his return as fall practice began earlier this month.

"I feel great," Lattimore said. "I just have to keep building my confidence up every day. Practice is going to help that and especially the first game is going to help it."

Anytime a player comes back from a severe injury, it can become more of a mental issue than anything else. Over the first two weeks of practices and scrimmages Lattimore believes he has overcome that mental block.

"I'm not thinking about it anymore; that was the main thing," Lattimore said. "I'm just going out there and trying to be myself as I did in the past."

In the three preseason scrimmages, Lattimore has carried the ball 10 times for 45 yards total and has one catch.

"I just block it out and remember how hard I worked for nine months and knowing that I'm strong enough to be able to take a hit or be able to make a cut," Lattimore said.

Both of Lattimore's seasons have ended with injuries. In 2010 he was knocked out of the Chick-fil-A Bowl on the first series of the game prior to his injury last season. With the load Lattimore has carried the past two seasons along with the two injuries, some believe Lattimore may be injury prone.

"I really don't believe I have that tag because anybody that's out there blocking like I was can tear an ACL," Lattimore said. "I never had a serious injury (before) so I'm not really even concerned about doing what I do. The way I run is the way I run and I know I'm going to be healthy."

Lattimore will be sharing carries early on with senior Kenny Miles and freshman Mike Davis could also see action early on.

"(Miles is) a class act," Lattimore said of his back-up. "He knows this offense like the back of his hand. He is a real, true veteran and a leader of our team. He's going to help us win a lot of ball games this year. I've learned a lot from him, not just in football. We talk a lot about everything in life."

Even while Miles was working out with the team during spring drills, it wasn't known if he would even be with the team as the season begins. Why should he? After all, he had been surpassed early by Lattimore, Brandon Wilds got a bulk of the carries when Lattimore went out, carrying the ball twice as much as Miles. With Shon Carson, who appeared to pass Miles on the depth chart before getting injured in the Georgia game, coming back from that knee injury and the arrival of highly-touted running back Mike Davis, Miles could have found himself as far down as fifth on the depth chart. Despite all of that, Lattimore says he never saw Miles with his head down.

"Never. That's what I admire about him the most," Lattimore said. "All of these guys are coming in and, honestly, he's overlooked. He's a great player and he's got great spirit."

Instead of giving up the game, Miles decided to return after a great spring and enters the season as the number two back. With Wilds and Carson now out, the once-deep position is beginning to thin out.

"It hurts me when they get hurt because I know what they're going through," Lattimore said. "I know Shon is hurting right now, and all the other guys on the team that have been hurt. I feel for them and that's who we're playing for because we know how bad they want to be out there."

The team began preparations for Vanderbilt Monday night, the first team Lattimore has prepared for since Mississippi State.

"It's been a long time since I've prepared for anybody so I'm really excited about it," Lattimore said. "Vandy is scrappy and their going to give you their best every time. We just have to go out there and do what we do."

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