Lattimore hard to miss in first practice

It took prized freshman running back Marcus Lattimore all of one practice to get some 11-on-11 work with South Carolina’s first-team offense.

The Gamecocks opened preseason camp Tuesday night, and Lattimore was hard to miss. He caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Stephen Garcia on a wheel route and also showed off some impressive moves during the practice. The South Carolina offensive staff likes Lattimore’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which should make him even more effective.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier noted that the play Lattimore scored on was an audible and he picked right up on it and adjusted his route.

“He will be ready the first game,” Spurrier said.

Sophomore running back Kenny Miles was nursing a hamstring pull during some of the 11-on-11 work. Still, it’s obvious that Lattimore is going to be a big part of this offense.

Speaking of freshmen, receiver Ace Sanders was equally impressive in his first practice. Spurrier felt like when the Gamecocks signed the 5-foot-7, 165-pound Sanders that his quickness and ability to make things happen in the open field would make him a perfect complement in the slot to some the Gamecocks’ bigger receivers like Alshon Jeffery, Tori Gurley and D.L. Moore. All three are at least 6-4.

“He’s a quick little guy and can go. We found that out,” Spurrier said.

Freshman A.J. Cann saw some time at left tackle in 11-on-11 work. Spurrier continues to talk like the Gamecocks may play a few of the freshmen on the offensive line. Ronald Patrick and Tramell Williams are also possibilities.

It’s too early to tell where Garcia is mentally and physically coming off his summer work and the public brow-beating he took from Spurrier. He wasn’t made available to the media following Tuesday’s practice.

Garcia, who's grown his hair out longer, did throw an interception in the end zone on an underthrown pass during 7-on-7 drills, but Spurrier seemed pleased with Garcia’s start.

“He did a little bit better, threw a beautiful pass to Marcus and a threw some errant balls here and there. But he’s trying,” Spurrier said. “Connor [Shaw] did a lot of good things also.”

Senior tight end Weslye Saunders also practiced and is still waiting to hear if he will face any penalties for a trip to Miami that might have been agent-funded. Saunders has already talked to NCAA representatives.

Spurrier said Saunders was down to 260 pounds and in the best shape he’s been in. Saunders, who was 285 last season, made several nice catches.