Practice report: Lattimore ready to contribute

jperson@thestate.comAugust 29, 2010 

Marcus Lattimore spent the past couple of years becoming a star at Byrnes High and watching South Carolina on TV.

But the Gamecocks’ tailback is reversing fields this week.

After tuning in for his alma mater’s 14-0 loss to Hoover (Ala.) High on ESPN on Saturday, Lattimore will make his highly anticipated debut Thursday against Southern Miss on the same cable network.

Lattimore’s primary goal is to do what Byrnes could not this past weekend without him.

“First of all, I want to win the game and help the team in any way that I can – scoring, any way I can,” Lattimore said following Sunday’s practice.

Lattimore, a Parade All-American and Rivals’ No. 1 tailback prospect, believes he had a good preseason

“I picked up the offense pretty good. It was a smooth transition because we run a lot of similar plays that I did in high school,” he said. “I think I was in shape and I came in ready.”

USC coaches have not announced a starting tailback. Steve Spurrier said Lattimore, Kenny Miles and Brian Maddox are all ready to play. Despite watching the “2001” entrance from the recruiting section of Williams-Brice Stadium, Lattimore said teammates have told him nothing beats being on the field.

“I’m just excited and ready to experience it,” he said. “I know it’s going to be something I remember for the rest of my life.”

Lift them up. Spurrier is never one to hold his tongue when his quarterbacks struggle. But after Sunday’s practice, Spurrier sought out the media to praise returning starter Stephen Garcia and freshman Connor Shaw.

Spurrier said Garcia had one of his best practices, and Shaw “did some good things.” And while Spurrier still has not named a starter, he was pleased with both Sunday.

“Stephen and Connor were a lot sharper, got the ball out of their hands without as much hesitation as we usually have around here,” Spurrier said. “So that was encouraging.”

No word from NCAA. Spurrier said starting left tackle Jarriel King missed practice due to “personal reasons,” but is expected to return today. King is one of about 12 players who were asked to move out of the Whitney Hotel and make restitution to the hotel after receiving discounted rates.

The NCAA has visited USC twice this summer to interview players about the Whitney situation, and talk to tight end Weslye Saunders, who is being investigated for possible impermissible dealings with an agent.

Spurrier said he had no update on the NCAA investigation or the status of Saunders, who has missed a week while suspended for a separate incident.

Extra points. Defensive tackle Byron Jerideau, a Colleton County native and junior college transfer, said he is the nose tackle in USC’s short-yardage and goal line defense. The 6-foot, 339-pounder said it’s no secret why he’s part of the package. “That’s really the main thing – size and strength.” …

Tight end Patrick DiMarco remains sidelined with a fracture in his forearm, although Spurrier said DiMarco would play Thursday with a rubber cast protecting the arm. Receiver Dion LeCorn, who missed most of the preseason with a shoulder injury, returned Sunday. …

USC defenders dropped two interceptions – the unit’s Achilles heel in 2009. “We’re talking about trying to make the picks, not dropping them,” Spurrier said. …

Spurrier said Joey Scribner-Howard likely would handle kickoffs against Southern Miss.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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