Last fall I went down to watch Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes play and write a story on one of the best football programs in the Carolinas.
The most highly-recruited player on that team was RB Marcus Lattimore, who said tonight in Spartanburg he would attend the University of South Carolina (choosing the Gamecocks over Auburn). Lattimore was rated the No.1 high school running back in the country by most of the major scouting services.
And Lattimore is absolutely for real -- I saw him that night in person and have watched him on TV as well. He is NOT the best high school RB I've ever seen -- that title remains with Nick Maddox, who while at A.L. Brown in Kannapolis looked like Barry Sanders. Maddox was dazzling in large part because no one could catch him, which led to all these runs where he'd break 4 tackles and outrun 3 other guys.
Lattimore is more workmanlike -- still fast, but not like Maddox. But I think he'll be a better collegian (Maddox had an OK career at Florida State but was not spectacular and never made it in the NFL). Mainly, he's bigger -- more of a slasher. Once other players caught up to Maddox's speed, he became an average college player.
Lattimore has more pitches to go to -- at 6-0, 214 pounds, he's got that strength-size-quickness combo that makes coaches salivate. He's good on first-and-10 or third-and-1. I would bet he will start from Day One of his official freshman season in South Carolina.
And according to this story by The (Columbia) State's Joe Person, Lattimore had some fun with this announcement too. How about using former Panther Stephen Davis as a straight man? (Lattimore called Davis, a former Auburn star, up to the front. Davis gave Lattimore an Auburn cap, but then Lattimore pulled out a USC cap from under it). Gotta like the presentation on that one, but I'm sorta surprised Davis played along with it.