MYRTLE BEACH - The South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association got it right.
On Friday night at the SCADA North-South All-Star Football Game, the association announced that Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore is this year's South Carolina Mr. Football for 2009. Lattimore will report to Shrine Bowl practice today in Spartanburg, but he was at Myrtle Beach High on Friday night to receive his award.
"I'm really kind of surprised, because of all these great athletes and players," Lattimore said. "This is such an honor because I've seen players in the past be successful.
"I think I have been a great player for Byrnes and a great team player and I have learned a lot from Byrnes High School. Considering all the players that come through South Carolina, this is a great honor."
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Lattimore, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, is one of the most recruited players in state history. He beat out Berkeley's Bruce Ellington, Daniel's DeAndre Hopkins, Goose Creek's Malcolm Howard and Boiling Springs' Dylan Pace Thompson. Last year's winner was South Pointe's Stephon Gilmore, a USC starting cornerback recently named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Lattimore has been ranked among the top 5 seniors in the nation this season and is No. 1 in The Sporting News' top 100 players. His top five schools are South Carolina, Penn State, Auburn, Georgia and Oregon.
"The recruiting process is going really good," Lattimore said. "I have dropped North Carolina and added Georgia."
The list of his awards speaks volumes about the impression he has made on the state and national scene. Last week he was named S.C. Gatorade Player of the Year and was chosen to play on South Carolina's Shrine Bowl team and in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Game in January.
Lattimore has accounted for 7,003 yards and 87 touchdowns rushing and receiving. He helped the Rebels win the Class 4A Division I state championship his sophomore and junior seasons. This year's team finished 13-2 and lost to rival Dorman in the title game.
"Marcus is without a doubt the most exciting and most coachable players I've ever coach," Byrnes coach Chris Miller wrote in his nomination form. "Even though Marcus has the most talent of our players, he has a very good work ethic. He practices hard every day and never takes a play off."