Hello, y'all. Gamecock fan here.
I have watched every single down Marcus played as a Gamecock, watched every interview, and followed his career with the close interest that he compelled from every single Gamecock fan. So I've stopped by to share some Marcus stories I thought you all might like. There are so many it's hard to choose, so I'll just list some things as they come to mind:
1. In Marcus's freshman year, the Gamecocks went down to the Swamp to play Florida with the chance to win the Eastern division title if they won that game. Prior to the game Coach Spurrier asked Marcus if he would be up to carrying the ball 40 times if needed. Marcus said his usual, "Yes, sir," and then proceeded to run all over the Gators that night and more or less single-handedly win that game. Carolina won in the Swamp for the first time in school history and won the Eastern Division SEC title for the first time in school history, so the celebration was crazy. Later, Spurrier commented that Carolina had won the division title the day that they signed Marcus Lattimore. After the game, when a reporter told Marcus that Spurrier had said that about him, Marcus's eyes got real big, and he said with genuine, humble sincerity, "Coach said that about me?" I love this story, but it's not unusual. Despite his incredible talent, Marcus Lattimore never once boasted about himself in his entire time at Carolina. He always gave all the credit in the world to his teammates and coaches and family.
2. Although we had the hall-of-famer Spurrier as our coach, Carolina was still struggling to do better than an occasional 8-win season until Marcus came along. After Marcus joined our team, Carolina went 9-5, 11-2, and 11-2, including a win over Alabama and multiple wins over Georgia, Florida, Tennesee, Clemson, etc. Coach Spurrier always says Marcus was the turning point for our program. The reason is because when Marcus came along, he brought an unsurpassed work ethic, humble spirit and compassionate love of his teammates that suffused our entire football program from top to bottom. For this reason, Spurrier recognized Marcus a few weeks ago during halftime at Carolina's spring game as the greatest Gamecock to ever put on the football jersey. The fans and Marcus's teammates all cheered uproariously and Marcus just grinned and blushed and seemed yet again amazed that everyone loved him so much.
3. One of my favorite stories has to do with Marcus showing up in the stadium when other players had to do early morning disciplinary running of the stadium steps. It began to come out that Marcus would be at the stadium for these sessions too, even though he was never disciplined, of course. So, the other player involved would ask, "Marcus, you're not in trouble. Why are you here?" And, as the reports go, Marcus would always respond, "I'm here because you're here."
4. After Marcus had rehabbed from his first injury, he made it a point to reach out to players on other teams whenever they suffered similar injuries. Days before Carolina played Georgia this year, one of Georgia's star wideouts tore his acl in practice--in the hectic week leading up the matchup featuring Gameday and the #5 and #6 teams at the time, Marcus took the time to write the Georgia wide receiver a letter. This is known because the Georgia player later mentioned it.
5. Every time Spurrier talks about Marcus it's like he is talking about his favorite son. He says Marcus is the most selfless player he has ever coached and that he is one of the best people he has met in his life in any circumstance. Spurrier's exact words once were that "Marcus is so good of a person that it's almost scary."
6. Marcus is deeply loyal to whatever institution, group or person he has committed himself to. I think he senses how much Carolina fans have personally hurt for him in his injuries. I think it might be because of this that he has made a point of emphasizing in his last interviews for the school that he had spent the best three years of his life at Carolina and he would not have changed a single thing. His loyalty to Carolina and her fans has precluded for him the possibility of questioning or second-guessing any part of his experience as a Gamecock. Which is not to say that Marcus is not a critical thinker--he is a very bright young man.
And even having shared all of this, I haven't scratched the surface. Simply put, Marcus Lattimore is an uncomparably unselfish, hardworking, generous, compassionate person. Many, many Gamecock fans say without hesitation that he is their favorite Gamecock of all time. I know that he is mine. And besides all of that, he is a great back too.
Enjoy him while you have him. He's special for sure.
[ Edited by GamecockFan on Apr 27, 2013 at 4:20 PM ]