It was a lot easier path to the end zone than the ones he used to take. No cuts, no swerves and nobody trying to knock him out of his shoes – just 200 or so people who high-fived, hugged and welcomed him as an ambassador.
Marcus Lattimore jogged into Springs Brooks Plaza in a familiar pose, ball tucked into his right arm and clenched to his chest, five fingers gripping the point. South Carolina interim coach Shawn Elliott was a few steps behind, brow glistening after his own run, good-naturedly hollering that it was time for a few 10-yard sprints.
Lattimore grinned and said maybe. Then, like he had so many times after finding paydirt, he tossed the ball to someone else.
No referee this time. Just a Sigma Nu brother clad in the same T-shirt, 140 others clapping along as Lattimore stepped to the podium.
Never miss a local story.
“This means more to me than you’ll ever know,” Lattimore said. “South Carolina’s had a couple of rough months. All these people coming together to cope … it’s Thanksgiving next week, but I’m thankful for each and every one of you.”
Lattimore ended the annual Sigma Nu Game Ball Run on Friday, taking the hand off from Elliott on Bluff Road and carrying to Williams-Brice Stadium. Elliott, who received his own hand off from members of Sigma Nu who had been running since 4 a.m. from Greenwood, toted from the fraternity house through Olympia.
“I didn’t hesitate when he asked,” Elliott said. “If I could get it worked out with the scheduling and such, why not? I’d run it again.”
Lattimore, Elliott and around 200 others rested, ate and enjoyed a sparkling day. Lattimore thanked the participants for contributing to The Marcus Lattimore Foundation, posed for pictures with members (and one dog) and ended with the natural shout – “Let’s beat The Citadel tomorrow, and then beat Clemson!”
The roar echoed. Craig Almond, Sigma Nu President, shook his head in admiration.
“It was a struggle, I tell you what,” Almond said of the run. “I’ve done this all four years. Being able to partner with this is just awesome.”
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState