Marcus Lattimore's path to the Heisman

Updated: September 20, 2011, 11:10 AM ET
By Ryan McGee

"Marcus Lattimore is not the fastest guy on this team."

South Carolina Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said it the same way he says everything, with a half-cocked smile and a matter-of-fact tone.

"He's not the biggest guy on this team. He's not the strongest guy on this team. But he's the hardest man to tackle on this team. One of the most difficult runners to tackle that I've coached. He's the kind of guy you want to have the ball in his hands when it's time to either win the game or lose it."

The OBC spoke those words last week, prior to the Gamecocks' matchup with Navy. By the time that game was over, the sophomore had backed up his coach's praise. The final stat line is impressive on its own -- 246 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries. But anyone who actually watched the game, or any of South Carolina's first three games, realizes that he did more than just post big numbers. He took the game over, providing stability when his team needed it most.

Lattimore's earth-moving game against Navy led to him being named SEC co-offensive player of the week -- and it also led to his emerging out of the realm of fringe Heisman candidates and into the lead pack.

How realistic are his chances to bring South Carolina just the second Heisman in school history? Let's take a look:

Why he'll win