US Presswire - South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2012, and we’re not stopping until we get to No. 1.

Marcus Lattimore – No. 1

And, finally, unveiling the No. 1 overall player in the SEC for 2012: South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.

Lattimore will be returning from a season-ending knee injury suffered a year ago in the Mississippi State game, in which he tore his ACL when another player inadvertently fell on Lattimore’s knee. So, there is obviously some questions as to whether he will be full strength, but I’m banking on him being full-go come fall.

And while some of you may have some beef with this selection, Lattimore has arguably been the best running back the last two years in a man’s league. His numbers and work-horse mentality prove he’s worthy of the argument and debate.

Marcus Lattimore, the running back, is a special, special player. He’s more of a throwback player, much like Trent Richardson. He is a complete back in this league, and his impact will be shown in all three phases of the game: rushing, blocking and receiving. Many running backs can can do one thing well, but it’s hard to find one to do all three well. He does that.

His freshman year in 2010, he took everyone by storm. How could a freshman come into this league and run through tacklers at will? During his freshman campaign, he carried 249 times for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns.

But his game doesn’t end there.

Lattimore is also a big-time receiving threat out of the backfield, as he caught 29 passes for 412 yards and two touchdowns in 2010 as well.

Obviously, in 2011, the numbers were down because of the injury; however, during the time he was healthy at the beginning of the year, he picked right up where he left off. Lattimore rushed for 818 yards on 163 carries and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown. And he only played in seven games, and only six full games. He ranked among the SEC and national leaders in rushing before the injury, and he was considered a strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy, while averaging over 23 carries per game.

I think we’ve all learned by now that Marcus Lattimore is not going to juke you in the open field, but he’ll carry it 30-plus times per game, wearing defenders down. He’s the guy at the end of the game you don’t want to tackle anymore because he’s beaten you down all game long. That’s Marcus Lattimore.

I expect the carry-per-game numbers to be down – and maybe even his rushing yardage, too – simply because of the injury, and because the coaching staff may not want to endure another year Lattimore-less.

He’s a very unselfish team player, and I know South Carolina loves having this kid represent their school and program. I love having this kid represent the SEC, and here’s to hoping he makes a full recovery and is healthy the whole 2012 season.


Okay, commence yelling at me. Who are your top 25 players for 2012?

The Countdown: