Published December 21, 2010 - 10:50am
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While the Big Ten grapples with their horrible decision to name their newly formed divisions “Legends” and “Leaders”, the SEC is home to both, and playing football in the divisions labeled simply as east and west works just fine for its tough players and passionate fans.
The SEC pumps out more top NFL talent than any other conference. The football down south is tough, and it’s an environment where legends and leaders are forged.
Tim Tebow, for Gator fans, is absolutely both a legend and the epitome of a leader. While he has his fair share of critics, nobody questions his leadership ability. Florida will have plenty of future quarterbacks that rival or even surpass Tim Tebow with regards to quarterback abilities, but they will never have another Tim Tebow because of the leadership he brought. That leadership made him legend.
One of the best Tebow stories is the story from his first session of spring practice. Tebow enrolled at Florida early to participate in the spring. Moving to Gainesville only a few weeks early, Tebow made a huge impression immediately to his teammates, even the veteran ones. One practice, coach Urban Meyer gathered the team together and announced they would be doing a tug-of-war. The tug-of-war would be between one member of the offense and one of the defense. Each team would nominate someone to represent their squad based on toughness and strength. The offense chose Tim Tebow – the same Tim Tebow that should have still been in high school. Unbelievable. We know how that worked out for the Gators and for Tebow a few championships and a Heisman later.
What is yet to be determined is the career of rising star Marcus Lattimore for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
We know how impressive he was as a freshman workhorse for the SEC East winning Gamecocks.
Nobody had more carries than Marcus Lattimore in the SEC. Forget the idea about a young freshman not being ready to handle the beating of a high carry running back. Lattimore carried the ball an incredible 248 times in 12 games. He had the highest yards of any running back at 1166 yards and was behind on Cam Newton in terms of rushing yards. He had 17 touchdowns. Guy is a man-beast.
While fans know Marcus Lattimore is an animal on the field, they might not know Lattimore’s leadership reputation and vocal nature with his team. Word is that ever since arriving on campus, Lattimore has backed up his tough play with tough talk and a voice pushing his team to play and work harder this past season.
Now with a full season and an insane work load under his belt, Lattimore has the respect of every player in the SEC and around the country. He will demand attention and his team will listen to him. As Tim Tebow showed for four years at Florida, players young and old will absolutely listen to a leader who plays hard and tough day in and day out.
Talented players are plenty in the SEC. You can find them on every team. What you can’t find on every team are those special players that can carry a team, that can outwork everyone else, and that can lead a team to greatness. South Carolina might just have one in Marcus Lattimore. He’s likely to do special things during his time in Columbia.
The difference with Tebow, however, might be in the number of years he stays in college should the NFL dollars come calling. Enjoy your time with this special young man Gamecocks fans. As John Brantley showed Gator fans this season, replacing leaders and legends isn’t so easy.