Lattimore is a powerful workhorse back who took college football by storm as a freshman. He ran for 1,197 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry with 17 touchdowns in 2010. Lattimore also hauled in 29 receptions for 412 yards and one touchdown. For that effort, he was named the SEC Freshman of the Year.
His second act didn't go as planned. Through seven games in 2011, the sophomore Lattimore was one of the nation?s leaders in rushing. Against Mississippi State last October, Lattimore tore ligaments in his left knee, ending his season. On the play, Lattimore was blocking for a receiver when a defender rolled into his leg. Lattimore ran for 818 yards on 163 carries (5.02 average) with 10 touchdowns in his shortened season. He also caught 19 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown.
2012 Season Outlook:
Lattimore is said to be on schedule to return for the start of his junior year. South Carolina figures to watch him closely, and if he shows soreness, the team will bring him along slowly. That could impact how many carries Lattimore receives early in the season as the Gamecocks take on Vanderbilt, East Carolina and UAB to open the season.
The positive for Lattimore has been that he believes he has learned how to take care of his legs better. Lattimore said he plans on spending the necessary time in the cold tub and hot tub to improve his training methods to protect himself against injuries.
While Lattimore may start slow, he should end up having a strong season if he can come close to his pre-injury form.
Skill Set Summary:
Lattimore is a power back. He hits the hole quickly and trucks into the second level of the defense. Lattimore is very strong and tough to bring down. He breaks arm tackles with ease.
Even though Lattimore is generally a North-South runner, he has more agility and shiftiness than one would think for such a large back. Lattimore runs with good pad level, vision and stamina. The one thing missing from his game is a second gear to break longer runs into scoring plays. He is quick to the hole but is not a true threat to take it the distance on every carry.
Lattimore is versatile enough to stay on the field on third downs. He has shown some receiving ability, and once he learns blitz protection, could be a dynamic running back at the next level.
Lattimore has the makings of a workhorse back who can handle a large amount of carries. He would fit a zone-blocking or power man-blocking scheme in the NFL.
2013 Draft Expectations:
The expectations for Lattimore are at a reasonable level. If he is slow in the beginning of the season and has a down year overall, the recovery from the injury could be credited for the reason. If Lattimore returns to his pre-injury form and has a big year, it would be surprising if he took the injury risk by returning for the 2013 season. Lattimore looks like a potential first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft assuming he has another good season in 2012.