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Ex-Cock RB Lattimore “Way Ahead Of Schedule”

gfx - they said itWhen star South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore took a blow to his knee during a game last October, the injury looked so bad that it was wondered by many whether or not the junior would ever play football again.  When word came that he would return, most assumed that meant a year away from the game and then a return, a la Willis McGahee.

But Lattimore has said that he wants to be ready to play in the NFL this fall.  And NFL Network draft analyst Mark Mayock says he’s hearing good things about the running back’s rehab:

 

“The NFL is collectively holding its breath to see where he is.  From what I’ve heard from people who are training where he is training/working out, he is apparently way ahead of schedule. He is going to get tested heavily and, if he is ahead of schedule, that is going to add to his value…

If he can play next year, even it if is the second half of the year, that is going to add to his value.  Teams look at injuries in different ways. ‘How quickly can we get him at 100 percent, back on the field?’ I think that is a lot what we’re going to see in Indy.

Unfortunately for fans and for me, we don’t get the medical (info), but we’ll start to hear that as time passes – where he really is – but I think it is positive and I think the Combine is going to help him because of the medical side of it.”

 

Given his injuries, Mayock thinks a third-round pick is the expectation for a workhorse back who had two seasons cut short by knee injuries while in Columbia.

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2013 Signing Class: South Carolina’s Target Zone

target-with-dartsSouth Carolina added 21 players from 7 different states on Wednesday and Thursday.  A breakdown of the Gamecocks’ “target zone” is below:

 

Georgia = 7 recruits

Florida = 4

North Carolina = 4

South Carolina = 3

Alabama = 1

Maryland = 1

Pennsylvania = 1

 

In-State Signees = 14.2%

Out-Of-State Signees = 85.7%

 

Observation:

With greater success the past three seasons, Carolina has been able to branch out and bring in more out-of-state recruits the past two offseasons.  But Steve Spurrier turned things around in Columbia by taking the lead in homegrown products.  The Gamecocks signed 17 in-state recruits (including Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney) in 2010 and 2011.  The last two years they’ve signed just seven in-state players.  The state wasn’t as rich this year as it has been recently, but Clemson signed two more in-state players and wound up ranked slightly ahead of Carolina in several post-signing day polls.  Not a huge worry, but a trend to watch nonetheless.

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Ex-Gamecock Lattimore Says He’ll Be Back And “Better Than I Was”

marcus-lattimore-carolinaWhen star South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffered the second major knee injury of his college career back in late-October, many wondered if the popular player would ever return to the game.  From the horrifying looksof the injury, it wasn’t too far-fetched for people to wonder if he would ever walk the same again… much less play football.

But as an observer at this week’s Senior Bowl practices, the ex-Gamecock said yesterday that he would be back.  All the way back:

 

“I’m going to continue to go to work until I’m back at 100% and better than I was.  That’s my goal and it is realistic…

If you don’t do your rehab, if you keep asking yourself ‘why me?’ your knee reacts to that.  You have to stay positive or you’re not going to come back…

I know it can be done.  It can be done and I will do it.”

 

Lattimore also said he’s “way ahead of schedule” in that rehab work.

Had he been able to avoid injuries during his three-year career, Lattimore quite possibly could have etched his name alongside SEC greats like Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson.  Here’s hoping we see him reach his full potential in the NFL.

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USC Confirms: No New Surgery Needed For Lattimore

When an athlete suffers the brutal kind of injury that took down Marcus Lattimore a couple of weeks ago, you look for positives.  You’re glad when you get any positive sign.

And the South Carolina athletic department revealed a positive sign yesterday – Lattimore will not require more than one surgery.  This backs up what Gamecock coaches said earlier in the week.  And, yes, it’s a positive.  Lattimore’s leg appeared to have been so mangled that my first concern upon seeing the injury was not ACL or MCL.  It was circulation.  Lattimore’s leg looked like it been snapped in half at the knee.

We still do not know whether or not the great player will play again, but according to school officials:

 

1.  He had his surgery in Birmingham last week

2.  Multiple ligaments were repaired

3.  He was returned to and release from a Columbia hospital on Monday

4.  He is not expected to need another surgery on the knee

5.  He has already begun rehabbing the knee in preparation to play again someday

 

Those are all good signs.  And we continue to wish Lattimore and his family the best as he works to return to the gridiron at some point.

Unfortunately, Lattimore won’t be attending this weekend’s Carolina-Arkansas game at which a new sign will be unveiled marking the back’s new career rushing touchdown record.  Doctors told him it was better to stay away than to attend the game.

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Spurrier Says Lattimore Will Play For USC Again, Then Takes Shot At Clemson’s Swinney

About 1,500 fans attended an afternoon rally for Marcus Lattimore on South Carolina’s campus yesterday.  Lattimore was lost for the season on Saturday when he sustained the second major knee injury of his career.  Speakers included teammates, school president Harris Pastides, and US Senator Lindsey Graham.  Well wishes and proclamations came in from US Vice President Joe Biden and Palmetto State Governor Nikki Haley.

That’s a darn big show of respect for a college running back who tore up his knee.  It says a lot about Lattimore’s reputation off the field, as well as on it.  You can see video from the rally by clicking here.

On a positive note, Steve Spurrier said that Lattimore wanted him to tell the crowd, “I’ll be back.”  The coach added: “We’re going to get Marcus for our or five years instead of three.  That’s one positive we know of.”

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There’s “Good” News and Bad News For USC’s Lattimore

Yesterday afternoon, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gave the word that star running back Marcus Lattimore had suffered a dislocated knee cap and that his season was finished.  Then, last evening, the school released a statement of its own.  Like Spurrier, the release sounded somewhat optimistic that Lattimore might play football again.  (And if you’ve seen video of the injury you know that Lattimore’s football future is clearly up for debate.)

Here’s the release:

 

University of South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a significant impact to the front of his right knee during the Tennessee game on Saturday. The ensuing hyperextension of the knee resulted in injury to several ligaments. There were no fractures or additional injuries, according to team physician Dr. Jeffrey Guy. Lattimore’s surgically repaired left knee was uninjured during the play.

Lattimore is resting comfortably and will continue to be evaluated over the course of the week. Marcus has already begun the process of prehabilitation prior to surgery and to his eventual return to football.

Lattimore, a six-foot, 212-pounder from Duncan, S.C., was injured late in the second quarter of the Gamecocks’ 38-35 win over Tennessee. Prior to the injury, he gained 65 yards on 11 carries, including a 28-yard touchdown run, against the Vols.

Lattimore was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher this season, gaining 662 yards on 143 carries (4.6 yards per carry), with a team-leading 11 touchdowns. He was also the top receiver with 26 catches for 173 yards. He was coming off a season-ending left knee injury suffered against Mississippi State in the seventh game of the 2011 campaign.

For his career, Lattimore has rushed 555 times (fourth in school history) for 2,677 yards (sixth in school history) with 41 total touchdowns including 38 rushing touchdowns, both school records.

 

The bad news is that a great player will have to rehab himself from a second knee injury in two years… that the star will someday enter the NFL draft with scars on both knees which could cost him a lot of money… and that South Carolina will have to soldier on without their best offensive weapon, just as it did last year.

The “good” news is that Lattimore’s career isn’t necessarily finished and that there were no further injuries to the leg other than the damage to “several ligaments.”  It’s a bad, sad story when that’s the good news.

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Mizzou Gets First SEC Win, South Carolina Edges Tennessee But Loses Lattimore To Knee Injury

Missouri 33 – Kentucky 10

1. Mizzou quarterback James Franklin entered the game in the third quarter with just a touchdown lead – Tigers scored next 16 points.

2. Missouri ran the ball 47 times.  

3. Tigers defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson returns a fumble 60 yards.  Gary Pinkel: ”For a 295-pound guy, he can run,” Pinkel said. “And he can stiff-arm, too.”

4. Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders: ”It was frustrating because we basically gave them the game.”

5. John Clay: “Joker Phillips had a bad day.”

South Carolina 38 – Tennessee 35

6. Up 21-14, South Carolina lost running back Marcus Lattimore on a running play with five minutes to go in the second quarter. Steve Spurrier:  ”I don’t know exactly where or how, but good things are going to happen for Marcus Lattimore.”

7. Lattimore out indefinitely.

8. Running back’s message to his teammates Friday night - play every game like it’s your last.

9. Vols come close but Jadeveon Clowney sacked their chances.  “We were one play away from getting that touchdown.”

10. David Climer: “Did you really think the Vols were going to score?”

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USC’s Spurrier Says Lattimore Should Be Ready To Juke And Jive

South Carolina star tailback Marcus Lattimore is expected to be back to full strength by the time the Cocks open practice later this summer.  The Heisman candidate is coming off surgery to repair ligament and cartilage damage to his left knee, an injury that cost Lattimore about half of the 2011 season.

Steve Spurrier said yesterday that he thinks his star should be fine:

 

“Marcus, again, is about a month or two away from full speed, but he should be 100 percent in August… I watched him during spring practice, he ran on the sideline, ran straight ahead.  And I think the month of May, he’s going to start making some cuts and planting and so forth.  But from watching him run straight ahead, I don’t think it will be a problem when he starts cutting and juking and jiving and so forth.”

 

Carolina’s coach also said that Shon Carson — a key backup to Lattimore — is recovering nicely from his own ACL tear last September.

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SEC Headlines – 4/16/12

1.  This writer’s not big on the idea of School versus School spring exhibition games.  (Neither are we for that matter.)

2.  This year’s Alabama football team will have to find its own identity.

3.  If Nick Saban released an official depth chart it might look a little something like this.

4.  Quarterback Zeke Pike is learning his way at Auburn.

5.  Is Garrick McGee’s silence at UAB speaking volumes with regards to Arkansas’ opening?

6.  Steve Mariucci?  Hog fan and golfing/beer-drinking legend John Daly is pushing for his buddy Jon Gruden to get the Hogs’ job.

7.  The 2012 Florida Gators look strongest in the secondary.

8.  When thinking about Kentucky’s next wave of hoops signees, don’t forget about ex-NC State point guard Ryan Harrow who’ll be eligible next season, too.

9.  South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore says being away from football — due to injury — has made him a better player.

10.  Safety Brian Randolph is maturing at Tennessee.

11.  Jordan Rogers is turning into a real leader at quarterback for Vanderbilt.

12.  This writer says Missouri threw away tradition to serve the youth market.

13.  Security and police protection are big business in the SEC.

14.  Know what else is big in the SEC?  Spring game attendance.

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Who Is The Best Running Back In The SEC?

How Do Knile Davis And Marcus Lattimore Compare Head To Head?

TJ Carpenter

Being considered the best running back in the SEC comes with national notoriety, Heisman hype and aspirations of playing the NFL. In many years the conversation and debate is heated; many times it is difficult to distinguish between one elite running back and another because all in the conversation dominate the country’s toughest conference known for its smothering defense.

This year the debate is not nearly as close as many would have you believe. It is fairly lopsided in fact, but not in the direction many would contend. This year, the debate is between Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina and Arkansas’ Knile Davis.

I’m having Deja Vu back to the preseason leading up to the 2006 season. Most believed the best running back conversation would be between Ken Darby of Alabama and Kenny Irons of Auburn. Darren McFadden, an eventual two-time Doak Walker Award winner and two-time Heisman trophy runner-up was considered a distant third in that conversation. What was it about McFadden that most people could conceivably have missed?

There were some, including our very own Russ Mitchell and yours truly who trumpeted the clear-cut best running back in the country McFadden and his once-in-a-generation abilities. Others chose to look at the surface and not delve deeper.

This season, we are seeing much of the same in college football. Marcus Lattimore is almost universally considered to be the nations top running back next season. However, few people stop to ask themselves why and simply recite the same things everyone else does. “He’s the workhorse of that offense, he was unstoppable against Alabama in 2010, he was instrumental in South Carolina’s comeback win over Navy.” (Really Navy? You’re going to cite Navy? But that is neither here nor there.)

Do the numbers, physical ability, and big game performances actually prove Lattimore should be considered the best running back in the SEC? Do they even prove there is a contest between Lattimore and Davis. Those who even mention Davis in the conversation often make it sound as though there are too many question marks and downsides in one place or another to give him an edge.

Let’s take a look at facts and then address the questions.

Marcus Lattimore won SEC Freshman of the year in 2010 after rushing for an impressive 1197 yards on 249 carries accumulating 17 TDs that season, starting in 11 games that season not including the bowl game against Florida State in which he only carried the football once. Impressive no doubt.

Knile Davis? Davis, led all SEC running backs with 1322 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010. Yet the feat was hardly noticed, and did little to push his name further into the conversation of the conference’s best running back heading in to 2011. When you compare games started and not games played, at 133.44 Davis averaged nearly 41 yards-per-game more than Lattimore. In nine games as a starter in 2010, Davis accumulated 1,201 yards.

Lattimore was and looks to be the focal point of the Gamecock offense. As most will point out, Lattimore is the “workhorse” of that offense, and as such will get the majority of the attention. Conversely, Davis is seen as a product of Bobby Petrino’s system and being surrounded with superior talent. Once again, how factual is this as a general statement? In his career, Lattimore has 30 or more carries in a game three times. Davis? Twice. The system being a factor? If it is, it shouldn’t be. Either Petrino is so much better at designing an offense and developing quarterbacks and wide receivers than Spurrier, that he can turn an inferior running back into a potential Heisman trophy candidate, or Spurrier has just gotten lazy in his old age. Either, Petrino really is that much better of a coach than Spurrier or there is less weight to the “system” argument than initially believed. Even if Petrino’s system were a significant factor, why should have be a detrimental point in saying Davis isn’t as good if not better than Lattimore.

Is Lattimore just a better athlete? Is he a faster, stronger back? More equipped at dealing with SEC defensive size and speed?

Lattimore runs a 4.5 in the 40 and bench presses just north of 300 pounds and he squats 482 pounds. Good numbers. Davis’s are better. He runs a 4.33 40, benches 415, and squats 570. Is Lattimore just a better athlete? The numbers would suggest no.

For those keeping score at home; statistical production: Davis; Speed: Davis; Strength: Davis; System: moot.

Davis is as strong as a linemen and is the fastest player on the SEC’s arguably fastest team. To quote Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, “He’s the fastest, strongest guy on the team, so I’d say he’s doing pretty good.”

Pound for pound, yard for yard, carry for carry, Knile Davis is the best back in the nation.

In big games, Lattimore has been exceptional. I don’t want to take that away from him. Against Alabama he was huge, against Georgia, huge. He has been instrumental in the resurgence of the South Carolina football program and the Gamecocks will look to him to lead them to another double-digit win season in 2012. Davis has been exceptional in big games as well, including a game in which the Razorbacks pummeled the LSU Tigers to end the 2010 regular season and used Davis as their battering ram.

The questions? How durable and/or injury prone are both running backs? Neither can take advantage of their considerable talents and skills if they aren’t on the field. Davis has had three ankle surgeries in his career. That is a legitimate concern. If there is one issue Davis has, it’s staying healthy. His health has never been an in-season issue, but missing all of 2011, came because of yet another recurring ankle injury. Missing half of the 2011 season because of an ACL tear, perhaps a more serious injury, is Lattimore’s biggest concern. Knees are finicky. No one including Lattimore knows how he will react to such an injury.

No one wants to see either running back’s career come down to an injury, but needless to say, it is a concern both fan bases and coaching staffs should keep a close eye on and hope for the best.

Lattimore is a good running back, no one, including myself, believes otherwise. But when taking a serious look at a side-by-side objective comparison, it is clear, the hype, and the debate belong to Knile Davis.

There’s still a long way to go before the season begins. I’m sure I’ll be getting plenty of hate mail and complaints about this column. To those who want to debate this point, remember, you aren’t just arguing with me, you’re arguing with facts. The facts are clear, Knile Davis is the best running back in the SEC.

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TJ Carpenter is host of The TJ Carpenter Show on The Hog Sports Radio Network from 6-9am (listen live at www.hogsportsradio.com) TJ Carpenter contributes to www.mrsec.com www.arkansassports360.com and www.collegefootballnews.com.


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