Lattimore Watch: A long journey

February 2, 2010 

As soon as it is made, Lattimore's decision will be posted at gogamecocks.com and on our Twitter page at twitter.com/gogamecocks

The day has arrived for Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore to make his college choice between Auburn and South Carolina.

The process was a long and tedious one for the state's Mr. Football, narrowing down 30 offers to two.

Clemson was the first to offer, in October 2007, while USC followed in January 2008.

Lattimore received offers from schools in the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and independents, including Notre Dame.

In August of last year, Lattimore narrowed his choices to the Gamecocks, Auburn, North Carolina, Oregon and Penn State.

After hinting that Florida State and Georgia could be making their way back into the picture, Lattimore named a final four in early January, dropping North Carolina from his list.

On Jan. 18, Lattimore cut his list in half, leaving the Gamecocks and Auburn.

He stated that Auburn held a slight advantage. Many have debated whether that is still the case.

At 6 tonight at Silver Hill Memorial United Methodist Church,, the debate will be over.

- Spartanburg Herald Journal

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Lattimore speaks

Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore makes his college announcement Tuesday sometime around 6:30 p.m. Lattimore has not talked to local or state media in two weeks, but he did speak with SportingNews.com Monday and gave his thoughts on USC and Auburn on the eve of his announcement.

"I'm excited about the announcement," Lattimore said. "Either way, I know it's going to prepare me for the next level. That's the SEC, the league that will most prepare me to maybe go on to the next level, too. I know that first I need to get stronger and faster, too.

"If I go to South Carolina, I'd be a big-time receiver out of the backfield and I'd also run the ball a lot. I'm excited about that because I love catching the ball. I know it's going to be a challenge, but I've seen when coach [Steve] Spurrier was at Florida, when he had a great tailback like Fred Taylor and Errict Rhett and how he used them. I've seen tape on how he used them."

As for Auburn, Lattimore said: "I think I'm going to be able to make plays at Auburn. I know I'd be utilized in the Wildcat offense like Darren McFadden was at Arkansas."

— Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Limited access

There will be limited access to the general public Tuesday when Marcus Lattimore announces his decision between USC and Auburn at 6 p.m. at Silver Hill Memorial United Methodist Church in Spartanburg.

The church is limited to 600 attendees, which will be comprised mainly of family, close friends and the community, according to an e-mail from a family spokesman.

Parking at the church will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, and access to the church will not be provided to the general public prior to 4 p.m.

For further questions, contact Silver Hill Memorial United Methodist Church at (864) 587-2018 or by e-mailing enveemarketing@yahoo.com.

— Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Final push

USC coach Steve Spurrier and several assistants did make it to Duncan on Saturday afternoon to meet with Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore.

The meeting went well with nothing unusual and no surprises.

Lattimore will announce Tuesday at 6 p.m. at his church and decide between USC and Auburn.

- Phil Kornblut

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Born to dominate

Lattimore has been on some outstanding teams, including back-to-back state champions in 2007 and 2008.

But none was more impressive, perhaps, than the 2001 Little Giants of the West Spartanburg Football League. The 9- and 10-year-olds simply demolished the competition, going unbeaten in 10 games and not allowing a point. In the final game, the Giants beat a group of all-stars from the other five teams 36-0.

Lattimore, now one of the most sought-after running back recruits in the country, played mostly defense back then. It's still a source of pride.

"I'm not sure anybody got past the 50-yard line, to be honest," he said.

Lattimore played on team with other eventual standouts at the high school level: quarterback Chas Dodd, wide receiver Nick Jones and defensive end Corey Miller.

"We've all worked very hard," Lattimore said. "It's been that way since we were kids and it's continued to this day."

- Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Parental guidance

USC gets its final meeting with Marcus Lattimore today. Steve Spurrier, Brad Lawing, Jay Graham and Shawn Elliott will visit Lattimore and his family.

Lattimore's parents have done much of the heavy lifting during recruiting to take the pressure off him.

His mother, Yolanda Smith, did the research on prospective schools, cataloging printouts about their facilities and coaches' backgrounds and academic opportunities in color-coded folders in a two-drawer file cabinet beside the dining room table.

Yolanda and Marcus' stepdad, Vernon Smith, accompanied Lattimore on every college visit.

"When I go to a school, I just have fun. I meet the players and the coaches and just enjoy myself. They are the main ones asking most of the questions, and I like that," Lattimore said earlier. "I don't have to worry about anything."

"He has the fun part of it; we do all the dirty work," Vernon said jokingly.

- Phil Kornblut and Akilah Imani Nelson

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The trophy case

Marcus Lattimore has piled up several pieces of hardware throughout his career, in addition to a pair of Class 4A state titles in 2007 and 2008.

Here’s a look at some of them.

2009 — Parade All-American, South Carolina’s Mr. Football, Gatorade Player of the Year, S.C. offensive most valuable player in the Shrine Bowl, U.S. Army Player of the Year finalist, U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Maxpreps.com second-team All-American, AP All-State team, EA Sports All-America team.

2008 — ESPN RISE Junior National Football Player of the Year, Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team, Maxpreps All-American, AP All-State team, Gatorade Player of the Year.

— Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Bruising beginning

The way Marcus Lattimore's life started, you might have never expected him to become one of the top running back recruits in the nation.

Before Yolanda Smith's youngest son reached kindergarten, he was an accident-prone child who made several trips to the emergency room and accumulated nearly $100,000 in medical bills, she said.

When Lattimore was 2, he fell off a slide and fractured his femur. For five months, the toddler was encased in a body cast from his chest down. His mother asked the doctors how to help him learn to walk and run normally when the cast came off. They suggested sports.

So Smith enrolled her son in T-ball when he turned 4. At 7, he took up football.

"I had no idea what he was doing out there. I just knew he was going to get a picture taken in his uniform, and that's all mama wanted," Smith said.

— Akilah Imani Nelson

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On track to stay active

High school sports fans in the Upstate have seen Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore make plenty of dashes to the end zone.

Now, they can see him do the 100-meter dash -- minus the football.

Lattimore, one of the top recruits in the country, played his final prep game this month in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He hasn't been just sitting around since. Lattimore is working out with the track team and will participate in the sprints. It was strength coach Mike Srock's suggestion.

"I thought it was a good idea, too," Lattimore said, "just to keep my speed for when I got to college. I want to run the 100 or maybe the 200, whichever I like better.

Lattimore rushed for 1,898 yards and 31 touchdowns this past season and caught 48 passes for 675 yards.

-- Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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A quick transition

What makes Marcus Lattimore a great runner?

His ability to change directions, says Jim Baxter of scvarsity.com and co-owner of Athletes Arena, where Lattimore will be training.

"Change-of-direction speed is really important to a running back," Baxter said, "and Marcus has really great transition speed. He can go from 0 to 60 really fast, whether he's taking a handoff or catching a pass flat-footed."

Baxter said Lattimore can run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, "but straight-line speed is not as important for a running back as it is for a wide receiver."

Lattimore plans to work out three days a week with trainer Josh Ortegon at Athletes Arena in Irmo after National Signing Day.

- From staff reports

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No trip to Auburn

Byrnes High running back Marcus Lattimore did not make an unofficial visit to Auburn Saturday.

Lattimore's mother said they might take another unofficial visit to USC before he makes his announcement a week from Tuesday, but no decision on that trip has been made.

Lattimore met with several USC coaches Friday.

This week he will have his in-person meetings with Auburn head coach Gene Chizik and USC head coach Steve Spurrier.

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Running back tradition

Marcus Lattimore will be following in the footsteps of some impressive running backs at either USC or Auburn. A look at the top five running backs in history at both school.

South Carolina

PlayerRushing Yds.
George Rogers 5,204
Brandon Bennett3,055
Harold Green3,005
Steve Wadiak2,878
Thomas Dendy2,767

Auburn

PlayerRushing Yds.
Bo Jackson4,303
Cadillac Williams3,831
James Brooks3,523
Joe Cribbs3,368
Stephen Davis 2,811

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Right up his alley

If Byrnes High running back Marcus Lattimore does not become an NFL Pro Bowler someday, maybe he can be a pro bowler.

Lattimore, one of the top football recruits in the country, is largely unknown and underrated in the sport of bowling. He's been playing that sport at least once a week for the past five years, averages about 200 per game and sometimes eclipses 250.

"It's just fun," he said. "They're playing music up in there and I'm out with my friends and there are girls around. ... It's just a good time."

Bowling was part of the activities earlier this month at the U.S Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Lattimore beat everybody.

- Spartanburg Herald Journal

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Lattimore family asks for privacy

Byrnes High School athletic director Bobby Bentley said in a news release that running back Marcus Lattimore and his family will have nothing more to say about his recruiting until he announces his decision Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. at his church.

Lattimore is choosing between USC and Auburn. In his last public statement about his situation, Lattimore said Auburn had a slight lead.

- Phil Kornblut

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Announcement open to public

As the Feb. 3 National Signing Day approaches, Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore moves closer to a decision between South Carolina and Auburn.

Lattimore says the official announcement on where he will play college football will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Silver Hill Memorial United Methodist Church, which will be open to the public.

Silver Hill Memorial's pastor, the Rev. Edward McDowell, says the church should accommodate up to 600 people, but arrangements can be made to handle more.

The four-star prospect, according to ESPN.com, has said that the Tigers hold a slight advantage.

- The Spartanburg Herald-Journal

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Where he is ranked

--- Rivals.com

Overall: 10th (five stars)

Running backs: Second

Comment: "His frame will easily hold 225 pounds, yet he will be able keep his quickness and speed."

--- Scout.com

Overall: Ninth (five stars)

Running backs: First

Comment: "A star in the making, Lattimore simply produces."

--- ESPN.com

Overall: 19th

Running backs: Second

Comment: "Blend of size, speed, deception and lateral quickness is excellent."

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