You’re probably expecting to find me using this space to write an article about the D.J. Swearinger suspension. But you can find any number of articles online about why the suspension was warranted, why it wasn’t, how it changes our defensive gameplan for Mizzou this Saturday, and what it means for the team’s collective psyche. So we decided not to focus on that story today (Spoiler Alert: we think the suspension is unprecedented, especially compared to the shot Justice Cunningham took against Vandy), and talk about the biggest story that isn’t on everyone’s mind.
With this two-yard scoring jaunt in the second quarter against UAB, Marcus Lattimore became South Carolina’s all-time leader in touchdowns with 34. He took just 23 games to surpass the previous record of 33 scores. Which is impressive enough on its own, but becomes infinitely more so when you consider who he had to pass to earn the record.
We all know about the marvelous exploits of George Rogers, Carolina’s legendary running back who played from 1977-80 and ended his career as the Gamecocks’ lone Heisman Trophy winner. You can see from the highlights how adept he was at finding a hole and how explosively quick he was. His career statistics were absolutely mind-boggling:
|Rushes||Rush Yds||Yds/Carry||Rush TD||Receptions||Rec Yds||Rec TD|
With special teams yardage added in, Rogers accounted for 5,402 yards in his career. He tallied 1,006 rushing yards during his sophomore season (in only eight games), 1,548 as a junior, and 1,781 during his Heisman Trophy-winning senior campaign. He surpassed 100 rushing yards in each of his last 22 college games. He averaged 172.2 yards per game during his senior season, and was the first overall selection in the 1981 NFL Draft. His #38 jersey was retired during his final home game, making him the only Gamecock player to have his number retired while still active.
While Harold Green doesn’t have the name recognition among current Gamecock students that Rogers does, his career was also very impressive. He played from 1986-89 alongside Gamecock greats like former quarterback and current radio play-by-play announcer Todd Ellis, receiver Sterling Sharpe, and defensive back Brad Edwards.
Green also accounted for 33 touchdowns in his career. He ranks third on the all-time rushing list behind Rogers and Brandon Bennett. In 1987, he scored a then-school record 16 touchdowns (surpassed by Lattimore’s 19 in 2010). Green tallied over 100 yards ten times in his Gamecock career, including a career-best 172 yards against Wake Forest in 1987. He was the second round selection (38th overall) of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1990 NFL Draft. It’s much tougher to find videos of Green, but a 2008 article from The State gives insight into the type of player he was:
“He reminded me physically of an Eric Dickerson or a Marcus Allen — lean guys with a slashing running style,” former safety Brad Edwards says… [Against Nebraska in 1986], “he took a short pass, jumped over one defender and made a long (scoring) run, probably 60 yards,” [former teammate Otis] Morris says. “That play was something special. He dodged and jumped and he was gone. He was action in motion. He had it all.” Plays such as those make [former offensive coordinator Frank[ Sadler call the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Green “as exciting a running back as I have seen. He had great hands and speed, and he had the ability to make people miss. The more he had the ball, the better he was. We knew he had great talent, and he did not disappoint.”
Realizing what great players Rogers and Green were make Lattimore’s new record all the more impressive. Every Gamecock fan considers Rogers a football god. Those with a fuller knowledge of USC’s football history have a robust appreciation for Green’s contributions. But what Lattimore has accomplished–in the equivalent of about two full seasons, mind you, due to his devastating knee injury last year–is simply remarkable. There’s no guarantees that Lattimore will come back for his senior season, but if he does it’s not a stretch to believe he could leave Columbia with well over 50 touchdowns.
In a few years’ time, Gamecock fans will look back on Marcus Lattimore’s career and recognize that they were witnessing a once-in-a-generation type player. Even though it got lost in the shuffle of all the other major stories this week, Lattimore’s amazing achievement is something worth taking a few moments to celebrate.