For the second consecutive recruiting cycle, South Carolina closed with one of the top prospects in the Palmetto State. Last year it was four-star receiver Alshon Jeffery (Saint Matthews, S.C./Calhoun County), who was verbally committed to USC, and this year it was ESPNU 150 running back Marcus Lattimore (Duncan, S.C./James F. Byrnes).
Lattimore, the No. 3 RB in the country, committed to the Gamecocks over Auburn at a press conference on Tuesday evening at Silver Hill United Methodist Church. The four-star running back never committed anywhere during the process, but in the end decided to stay close to home and become a Gamecock, like his sister.
"[The coaches at South Carolina] know my skills, they know what I can do, but I was never guaranteed a starting spot. I can tell you that," Lattimore said. "I know I have to work hard. I think if I come in and work hard enough, I can be on the field the first game."
Former Baltimore Ravens and University of Tennessee running back Jay Graham is in his first year as the running backs coach for Steve Spurrier and he was Lattimore's primary recruiter for the better part of the process.
Lattimore made official visits to South Carolina, Auburn and Penn State during his recruitment and both of his finalists -- Tigers and Gamecocks -- made final pitches during in-home visits last week. Penn State even tried to get back in the race at the last minute, but to no avail.
"Fortunately, after all the in-home visits, the camps I went to, after all the unofficial visits, I found the place best for me," Lattimore said. "[South Carolina] is the best fit for me. That's where my heart is."
He rushed for 1,898 yards and 31 touchdowns and caught 53 passes for 751 yards and five touchdowns this season for No. 2 ranked Byrnes. The Rebels reached the South Carolina Class 4A, Division I championship game before being upset by Dorman in the title game.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.