Before Jadeveon Clowney became a household name, it might be fair to suggest running back Marcus Lattimore is the player that helped Steve Spurrier take South Carolina from being a decent program to one ready to make a run for the SEC championship. The recruiting of Lattimore helped the Gamecocks take the next step in Spurrier’s plans in Columbia after a failed stint in the NFL. For all Lattimore has meant to Spurrier’s revival as a coach, Spurrier wants Lattimore know there will always be a spot for Lattimore in Columbia as long as the old ball coach is around.
“We’ll find something for (Lattimore) to do, whether it’s football or general athletics,” Spurrier said today, after news broke Lattimore is retiring from the NFL. “He has put everything into it. It’s disappointing.”
Lattimore played just three seasons at South Carolina, and he rushed for 2,677 yards and 38 touchdowns in 29 games from 2010 through 2012. Lattimore battled injuries in his final two years before deciding to take a shot at the NFL before another injury put a potential career out of reach. Unfortunately, Lattimore’s injury woes followed him to the San Francisco 49ers, the NFL franchise that drafted him out of South Carolina in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Before Lattimore enrolled at South Carolina, Spurrier was coaching a program that had improved to be counted on six or seven wins per season with an occasional top 25 ranking in the polls. In Lattimore’s first season with the Gamecocks, his only full season, South Carolina won nine games. The following three seasons ended with 11 wins, although Lattimore only played part of two of those seasons due to knee injuries.