Top 10: #1 - Marcus Lattimore

For South Carolina to reach its goals in the 2012 season, 10 players have to step up and have a big year. We begin the top 10 today and will conclude with the #1 player prior to the opening game against Vanderbilt. Today we take a look at the #1 player, Marcus Lattimore

1. Marcus Lattimore

Was there ever any doubt?

While South Carolina proved that they could win without Marcus Lattimore on the field last season, going 5-1 after Lattimore's season-ending injury in the Mississippi State game, to say that the offense is better with Lattimore on the field is an understatement. The offense struggled to sustain drives and put points on the board over the next three games before finally putting things together in the last three games. It's not a slight towards Brandon Wilds and Kenny Miles, who both did very well when called upon, but you have a legit Heisman hopeful in Lattimore.

After sitting out the spring with the injury Lattimore came back in for fall practice and suited up for the first time on August 3rd.

"It's been a long time," Lattimore said. "It's been a long time since I've been at practice, since I've done anything football-related. It's a blessing just to be back out there with the guys. It was a great feeling."

Lattimore has certainly been a workhorse in his short time with the Gamecocks. In 20 games, Lattimore has carried the ball 412 times 2,015 yards and 27 touchdowns. In just the second game of his career and first conference game Lattimore ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns on an eye-popping 37 carries in a win over Georgia. Later that season, Lattimore would run the ball 40 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the SEC East clincher against Florida. The Byrnes graduate would run the ball 37 times again in 2011 against Navy, gaining a career-high 246 yards and three touchdowns. His most impressive statistical game was the 2010 game with Troy when Lattimore only played in the first quarter, running the ball seven times for 102 yards and three scores.

Lattimore has carried the ball 20+ times in nine games in his career, nearly half of the games he has played in. He has carried the ball 30+ times in three games, and only twice has Lattimore rushed the ball less than 10 times; the 2010 Troy game and the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Florida State.

Lattimore has already set school records for rushing attempts in a game (40), rushing touchdowns in a season (17), Total touchdowns in a season (19), and points scored in a game (114). Lattimore needs just four more touchdowns to set the career touchdown record and five rushing touchdowns to set the school record in that category.

Lattimore is used to facing difficulties, but he will be facing a new challenge when Carolina travels to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt tonight. Not only will Lattimore be playing in his first game in Nashville after sitting out the 2010 meeting with an ankle injury suffered the week before against Kentucky, but he will be coming back from the first severe injury in his career.

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

Lattimore's carries will almost certainly be reduced with Connor Shaw in the backfield with him and a surging Kenny Miles playing behind him. However, Spurrier has said time after time that Lattimore will get the ball as many times as it takes to win the game. Whether it is seven or 40, that is how many times Lattimore will carry the ball.

Top 10
10. Byron Jerideau
9. T.J. Johnson
8. Victor Hampton
7. DeVonte Holloman
6. Ace Sanders
5. D.J. Swearinger
4. Devin Taylor
3. Connor Shaw
2. Jadeveon Clowney
1. Marcus Lattimore

Honorable mention
Rory Anderson
Shaq Wilson
Brison Williams
Jimmy Legree

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories