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Exclusive: Marcus Lattimore returning to South Carolina to work with Gamecock football

Exclusive: Marcus Lattimore sits down with WACH FOX sportscaster Mike Uva to discuss his return to South Carolina to work with the football program. (WACH)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - After coaching high school football the past two years at Heathwood Hall, former Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore is returning to the University of South Carolina.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with WACH FOX sportscaster Mike Uva, Lattimore explained that South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has hired him as the director of player development for the football program.

“It is a pretty full circle moment to be able to go back to my university and help them,” said Lattimore, who will begin his new position on Monday. “I’ve kept in contact with so many people around the university – in particular Coach Muschamp. I’m just really excited about this new endeavor of being director of player development for the football team at the University of South Carolina.”

Lattimore will work directly with football under a program created by Muschamp called Beyond Football. The mission of the program is to help players prepare for life after football by helping them find their identity, learning the importance of community service and developing skills needed to succeed in their professional lives after sports.

“There’s more to life than football. You’re not (at South Carolina) just to play football. You’re here for a higher purpose,” Lattimore explained. “You can use that. You can use football and not let football use you.”

Like many football players leaving high school to play in the Southeastern Conference, Lattimore had dreams of playing in the NFL.

“From the time I was seven years old, I played the game of football and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I wanted to go to the NFL,” Lattimore said. “If I worked hard and stayed dedicated, then good things would happen.

“Well, adversity hit in my life. I had a knee injury to my left. (Then) I had a right knee injury. My career was over by the age of 23. What do you do when things happen like that? I’m able to help them on that personal life because I’ve sat in their shoes. I know what they’re going through but I also had a plan after (football) and not many guys do. I want to be the voice for those guys and make sure they have meaningful education while they’re here.”

Since Muschamp was named head football coach at South Carolina, Lattimore says Muschamp has been trying to get him over to the university to work with the football program. Unfortunately, with Lattimore’s foundation – the Marcus Lattimore Foundation – the NCAA prevented it from happening initially.

“With my foundation, I work with student-athletes on a day-to-day basis and some of those student-athletes are recruitable to the University of South Carolina,” explained Lattimore. “I’ve worked some things out with compliance and the NCAA and we’ve got things ironed out.

“I can’t technically be involved in my foundation’s programs. I can still have my foundation and I can still do the things that I want to do but I can’t be present at those events.”

With the NCAA leaving Lattimore to decide between his foundation and working at the university, he accepted a position as an assistant football coach at Heathwood Hall in 2016, where he also served as an advancement associate for the school. Following that season, Lattimore was named head coach of the varsity football team.

Despite working at Heathwood for less than two years, Lattimore’s appreciation for the school can’t be measured.

“Everyone in the Heathwood community has really been a blessing in my life; from all of the coaches and everyone that I’ve met that is connected to Heathwood,” said Lattimore, who broke the news to his players Thursday morning during a team meeting. “Ever since I came there that first day, they’ve welcomed me with open arms.

“Chris Hinchey and Jeff Whalen gave me my first job – my first real job. I’ve grown so much in these two years because of the opportunity I had at Heathwood. I am forever grateful to the school and to everybody who really welcomed me and embraced me; not this guy that they see on TV or the guy they know as the player at the University of South Carolina but they embraced me as a person. I can’t ever repay them for that.”

Lattimore believes the move to return to his alma mater is one that can help him fulfill a lifelong dream down the road. One that he says he hasn’t told too many people about.

“When I was a senior in high school I wrote a paper on Bill Polian, who was the general manager at the time for the Indianapolis Colts. I was so impressed by him and I admired his story. That made me want to be an NFL GM one day.

“I know there’s a lot of different hurdles and obstacles that I have to achieve before I get to that point but that’s a life-long dream for me to be able to run an NFL team.”

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