Offseason spotlight: South Carolina

We check out South Carolina in Thursday's offseason spotlight:

Spotlight: Running back Marcus Lattimore, 6 feet, 232 pounds, rising junior

2011 summary: He was one of the nation's top rushers before he went down with a devastating knee injury midway through the season. Before his season-ending injury, Lattimore rushed for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 182 yards and another score.

The skinny: Lattimore was on pace to have yet another solid season with the Gamecocks before suffering his knee injury against Mississippi State. The worst part about it was that Lattimore was blocking on the play. The key for Lattimore this offseason is getting back into true football shape and being able to move around like he used to on his knee. He might be able to run and cut, but he also needs to be able to improve how he takes contact as the offseason progresses. Obviously, there's no need for the coaching staff to risk pushing him too much too early, but Lattimore will eventually have to get back to running with the comfort he had before his injury while being able to take hits. That will come with rehab, repetition and time in the gym. He also needs to get his mental edge back. Like most players coming off of injury, it will take a little time for him to get back into the mindset of going through the motions on the field. South Carolina's coaches believe he can come back better and stronger than before, but to do that Lattimore must make sure his knee is healthy enough, and that his body is ready to withstand the rigors of another SEC season.