At the age of 27, Marcus Lattimore’s career has come full circle.
On Thursday night, the Duncan, S.C. native headlined a nine-member 2019 University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame Class that puts him rightfully among the elite to ever wear a Gamecock uniform. He’s was overwhelmed by the honor and almost caught off guard when Athletics Director Ray Tanner called him with the news.
“When I got the call from Coach Tanner, he usually warms me up during the conversation. He usually starts me off with a joke so that’s what I’m assuming when he called me. I was in complete shock,” Lattimore said.
“It adds an extra level of credibility and I’m able to use that when I go and speak, when I go administer to the youth, which is my passion. It’s really overwhelming to be honest with you. It’s an overwhelming feeling that I didn’t expect but I am honored and grateful and so happy to be part of this university.”
Lattimore is currently in his second year serving as the Director of Player Development for Life Skills and head of the team’s Beyond Football program at South Carolina. He also runs the Marcus Lattimore Foundation, which is committed to the youth and initiatives which emphasize Christian values, character, life-skills development, education and health and wellness.
The fact that he’s still making an impact at South Carolina shows the character that has made him one of the most recognizable, charismatic and likable athletes ever to play for the Gamecocks. The things he does off the field almost overshadow what he accomplished on the field.
Lattimore burst on the scene by rushing for 1,197 yards as a freshman in 2010, leading South Carolina to its only SEC Eastern Division title. By the time he was done with his three-year career that had his sophomore and junior seasons cut short due to injuries, he owns the school record with 38 rushing touchdowns and 41 overall while ranking sixth all-time rushing list with 2,677 yards in just 29 games played.
Even though he was drafted by San Francisco, his NFL career never took shape as the devastating knee injuries finally forced him to retire in November of 2014.
“This University has changed my life,” Lattimore said. “I learned so much about myself. Not because of the injuries, obviously that was part of it, but I learned sacrifice. I learned what hard work really means.”
All that sacrifice and hard work has led Lattimore back to his current position. His office is in the new Cyndi and Kenneth Long Family Football Operations Center and on most days, you will see three, four, five or even more current players stopping by asking him for advice.
“Every time I walk by his office, there’s a player or two, or three, or four sitting in his office talking to him, whether it’s about adversity, something going on at home, or just talking,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “So many of the things that he has done in our state, number one, but in our community, for the University of South Carolina, and promoting the University of South Carolina and the Gamecock brand, and how he represents us in a first-class manner.”
Those moments are what drives Lattimore now – away from the 80,000 screaming fans that he used entertain every Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium from 2010-2012.
“Every week, there is a new set of challenges for these guys,” Lattimore said. “Not only off the field but on the field. They’re dealing with stress and pressure from all of these different people in their life. Having someone that they can come to and completely disconnect from the game is critical. It’s been eye-opening for me because you forget how demanding the job is. Being that voice they can lean on is special to me.”
Gary Binfield – Swimming (1986-89) – Binfield was a 15-time All-American that won the Metro Conference championship in the 200-yard backstroke and 200 individual medley in 1986.
Kristi Coggins – Women’s Golf (1994-2007) – Coggins led the Gamecocks to 12 trips to the postseason and six NCAA championship appearance while claiming SEC Coach of the Year in 1999. Rashad Faison – Football (1999-2002) – Faison, a defensive back, holds the USC record with 247 unassisted career tackles, and is seventh in school history overall with 349 total tackles and 10th in tackles for loss with 27.5. Joe Grugan – Multi-Sport (1937-41) – Grugan spent five different decades either playing, coaching or serving the University of South Carolina in an administrative role after he was a star running back from 1937-41. He also pitched and played outfield for the baseball team. Cally Plummer- Volleyball (1998-2002) - Plummer was a four-time All-SEC performer that still holds the school record for career aces (233), is fourth in career kills (1,295) and fifth in career attacks.
Jim Schaper – Track & Field (1971-74) – Schaper was a two-time All American in track and field that still holds the school record in the 1,500 meters, the two-mile relay, and the distance medley relay. He won a gold medal in the AAU Championships in the sprint medley relay. Derick Urquhart – Baseball (1995-98) – Urquhart holds the Gamecock record with 223 runs scored in a career while owning a .332 batting average. He also ranks among the all-time career leaders in doubles (T6th-51), hits (T4th-265), RBIs (7th-180) and total bases (5th). Harry Wolf – Multi-Sport (1925-28) – Wolf won the Southern Conference heavyweight boxing championship, was a member of the football and basketball teams and competed in the weight throws in track & field where he was the Southern Conference shot put champion.