Marcus Lattimore humbled, honored over Hall of Fame induction

By: Brad Muller

Marcus Lattimore (2010-2012) is one of the most beloved South Carolina student-athletes of the 21st century, and there are not too many people who are surprised that the former Gamecock football star is a part of the 2019 class for the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame sponsored by the Association of Lettermen.  One person who was surprised was Lattimore, himself.

“Honestly, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was shocked when I found out,” Lattimore said. “That’s one of the highest honors that you can receive. After an athletics career that was brief, I’m honored that they think of me in that way.

“The first people that came to my mind were from the teams that we had. We had a great team that put me in a lot of good situations to help our team move the ball down the field, particularly our offensive line, and our defensive mentality was contagious to our offense, so we played with that same type of ferocious mindset. This is a team award more than anything.”

Despite an abbreviated career due to a pair of leg injuries, Lattimore ranks sixth on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,677 yards and owns the school record for both rushing touchdowns (38) and touchdowns scored (41). His best season came as a freshman in 2010 when he rushed for 1,197 yards while being a unanimous selection as a Freshman All-American. He was a fourth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the effects of his two injuries led to his retirement in 2014.

Although he had bad luck with injuries, Lattimore is not filled with regrets.

“No, I don’t miss playing,” Lattimore said emphatically. “I do not miss getting hit! I took a few shots. But I do miss the relationships. There’s nothing like it when you’re going to battle with someone who relates with how you feel in the moment in what you’re doing.”

“My life has been amazing and part of that is because of the people at this University.”

Putting those experiences to good use, Lattimore is back at his alma mater, working as Director of Player Development for the South Carolina football program.

“What I like best about my job now is being able to get inside the heads of the young adults I work with, understanding how they think, and where their emotions come from,” Lattimore said. “That excites me so much. Also being able to put myself back in their shoes and look at them differently than the world looks at them.

“People sometimes don’t look at them as human. I love the humanizing factor that I bring when they sit in my office. We don’t have to talk about football. We can talk about what’s going on with them off the field, what’s going on with their girlfriend, what’s going on with family and all those things. Being the person that they can come to when they’re feeling a little bit stressed is an honor and a big responsibility that I don’t take lightly.”

His image can be found in graphics all around South Carolina’s football facilities but coming up with his best memories of his time in the Garnet and Black is difficult.

“It’s hard to answer because I had so many good times in the locker room,” Lattimore said. “I had so many good times on the plane coming back from a win. I had so many good times that weren’t in Williams-Brice Stadium. Winning the (SEC) East in 2010 down in Florida and seeing the smile on Coach (Steve) Spurrier’s face. It’s hard to top beating (No. 1) Alabama in 2010. It’s hard to top beating Georgia in 2012. I thought there was an earthquake at Williams-Brice because it was so loud after Ace Sanders returned that punt and sealed the deal for us.

“The moments I remember the most were the fights and battles in practice, the bus rides back from a win at Clemson, and just the fun that we had together as teammates.”

Lattimore is thankful to his teammates and coaches who helped him throughout his career, but he is also thankful for his professors and other administrators who made a big impact on his life.

“Dr. (Sara) Corwin, from the College of Public Health. She is so authentic and so genuine. She has a passion for public health and has a passion for life in general,” Lattimore said. “She really made class fun. I’m forever grateful to her and everything she has done for me.

“(Executive Association Athletics Director) Maria Hickman is the mother at times, the sister, the mentor, the counselor, and somebody you could call in the middle of the night. When I retired from the NFL, one of the first calls I made was to Maria Hickman because I didn’t have a sense of direction. She gave us that structure that we craved. She is such an asset to this University.

“I also remember being on campus, and anyone from the janitorial department would speak to me after games. It’s the little things in life that are important, and I’m forever thankful for all those interactions. My life has been amazing and part of that is because of the people at this University.”

While humble in his accomplishments, campus may get loud once gain when Lattimore is introduced at the induction ceremony on October 17 at Colonial Life Arena and to the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium for the game against Florida on October 19.

“I’m looking forward to being around my family and really enjoying it with them, including my wife, Miranda,” Lattimore said. “It will be a perfect close to an up and down chapter of my life that I look back upon with a lot of pride and a lot of life lessons that I learned during my athletics career and being around the other inductees.”

To read more about the 2019 Hall of Fame class, click here.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks