Q: Does Marcus Lattimore remind you of yourself in 1980?
A: “Not really. The most impressive thing, and what really excited me, is he runs straight ahead and he’s got quick moves in the hole, plus he catches the ball well out of backfield. I ran straight ahead, but I think I accelerated in the hole; when I did that, I ran past people. I don’t see him running past tacklers, but he’s real good at making adjustments in a hole. If you don’t wrap him, you ain’t going to tackle him.”
Q: The year you won (1980), a freshman (Herschel Walker) finished third. How difficult is for Lattimore to win as a sophomore, or is that not an issue today?
A: “I don’t think it’s an issue since (Tim Tebow won as a sophomore in 2007). Marcus can be at the top of the list since he had a great freshman year. Herschel’s numbers (as a freshman), Lattimore had to be around that number (in 2010). I think as far as being a runner, he can be the premier back in the country. The back from Auburn (Michael Dyer) was good, and he played better toward the end. Alabama’s No. 3 (Trent Richardson), he’s another back who was pretty good, too. He and (Mark Ingram) were about the same. (Richardson) can win the Heisman if Alabama makes a run this season.”
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Q: What was the hardest part for you about the pursuit of the Heisman Trophy?
A: “The media made it a big deal. I mean, I just played the game; it’s easier to play than listen to all the hype. Every time we played, I wasn’t scared — I played as good as my offensive line played. We won it as a team. I didn’t want to be in front of the media; I wanted to be around the (other players), not talking football and touchdowns, just being around those guys, having fun, enjoying college life.
“With Marcus, all the attention, he’s used to it. He’s been getting that all his life, in high school, so he’s more used to it than I was. I met his mom and dad, and he’s from a good family. They got him humble; he’s a kid you wish were your own. He’s done a great job with the media so far. What will be hard for him is the SEC; that’s a harder road than what I went down,really good defenses.”
Q: Do you think your victory in 1980 makes it easier for Lattimore?
A: “I think it makes it easier, but the caliber of teams we played, Florida State, Georgia, (Southern California) and Michigan the same year — that helped us. If (USC) can win the SEC, if that can’t get you a Heisman, nothing can. Marcus is playing a lot of top schools, as many as we did, but when you’ve got those back-to-back games like they have now in the SEC, that makes it a little harder.”
Q: What things need to happen for Lattimore to be a candidate?
A: “I think he has to have a similar year to last year as far as touchdowns and yards. And USC has to be up there, (a record of) 9-3, 10-2, around that number. If I had to guess, I think USC can win at least 10, and Marcus will be the top rusher. They don’t have many weak ones on the schedule, so if he can have another good year — say, 20 touchdowns and 1,600 yards — there’s no way he’s not in the Heisman race.”