Before Marcus Lattimore reports to his first training camp with the San Francisco 49ers this month, he made a stop at A.C. Flora on Saturday at the MVP Football Camp to give back to the youth of the area.
Lattimore, along with former Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler, were on hand to help with a football camp that served as a fundraiser for local youth leagues. Being able to give back to a community that has meant so much in his development as a football player had a special meaning for Lattimore.
Interacting with the fans and all the kids is great, he said. Im so blessed to be in this situation. I dont take it lightly and I dont take it for granted. It doesnt go unnoticed what they (the fans) do. They pack out the stadium, they write me cards and letters. They love their Gamecocks and I love them, too.
This is the second camp Lattimore has worked for the Everett Sports Marketing group. He did the first one in Greenville in March and was more than thrilled to be able to contribute again for the more than 200 kids who ranged in age from six to 14 years old.
The camp was broken into morning and afternoon sessions. During the overlap time of switching over, the athletes addressed the campers and their parents.
The message delivered was direct. They promoted discipline, hard work and faith as common threads that would make someone successful not only in athletics but in life.
Lattimore told one 10-year old that if he wanted to be a USC football player in eight years, he needed to put in the work and stay disciplined and anything was possible.
He also was thankful for them coming out on the muggy morning and doing what was asked of them.
I appreciate the effort, Lattimore told the crowd. The effort was fantastic and that is what its all about. Always give the best that you can do. Dont compare yourself with anybody. Its all about effort. Ive had two injuries and I have to work hard if I want to come out and play football. Thats what Im going to do.
The all-time touchdown leader with South Carolina is rehabbing the right knee injury he suffered against Tennessee last October that ended his college career. Hes been to mini-camp with San Francisco and will continue his rehabilitation when he reports to camp. Lattimore said he will begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) but expects to be ready near midseason.
Ive been on pace and havent had any setbacks, Lattimore said. I havent had any problems with the knee. Im moving forward in everything that I do, and Im excited about training camp coming up. Im just going to train and get a shot sometime around mid-season to practice.
Lattimore shared with the campers the story of thinking his football career was over after suffering his second major knee injury in as many seasons. He told how USC quarterback Dylan Thompson came by a few days after the second injury and assured him the God does not make mistakes. That had a profound effect on Lattimore, and he decided he was going to do everything in his power to return.
I gave up right after it happened, Lattimore said. I knew I was done with football. Dylan Thompson came over and told me that God doesnt make mistakes. That hit me hard. Now, Im back on my feet, back doing what I want to do.
Lattimore, who had his mother and stepfather on hand,. told the campers that each of them would encounter adversity and it was how they reacted to that adversity that would define them as a person.
Im so happy to be out here with you guys because I was in your shoes, he said. I know so many guys that didnt work hard when they had all the talent in the world. When something happened in their life, they just faded away. Dont be that guy. All you guys have the work ethic to do something special.
Dan Everett, who along with wife Rachel founded Everett Sports Marketing seven years ago, knew Lattimore through mutual friends and reached out to see if he was interested in doing the camps. He said there was no hesitation on Lattimores part.
Marcus loves it out here, Everett said. We may do another one before the season starts.
Everett has conducted these type of camps throughout the Southeast with former NFL, MLB and college stars being featured. He pairs one of his representatives, usually the athlete, with a local coach, who this time were the coaches on the A.C. Flora staff.
Its a time-consuming process and he could have been the busiest person on the field Saturday. But he wouldnt trade places with anyone.
Were really blessed, Everett said. People say we have the dream job. The finished product of putting on a camp and seeing the kids come out here and have fun along with parents complimenting you one after another is awesome. Thats why we do it. We hope it has an impact on the kids. We try to choose athletes that are role models and push those good Christian values onto the campers.
Marcus Lattimore commemorative issue
Go to thestate.com/lattimore; it also is available at three Jewelry Warehouse locations or at The State Newspaper at 1401 Shop Road.