Lattimore, Faison reflect on careers before Hall of Fame induction
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS FOOTBALL
Last night, the Gamecocks inducted two of their own from the football program into the athletic department's Hall of Fame with Marcus Lattimore and Rashad Faison both getting eternally enshrined into Gamecock history.
Lattimore was one of the most impactful Gamecocks of the early 2010s but saw his career cut short after two knee injuries. He found a purpose, though, in mentoring children in the community and now heads up the football team's Beyond Football program under Will Muschamp.
Faison played defensive back from 1999-2002 and was a Freshman All-American before leaving the program with the school record for unasssited tackles with 247. He's top 10 in total tackles, tackles for loss and pass breakups.
Before they got inducted, both spoke with the media about what this means to them and reflected on their playing days.
Did you know something like this was coming?
“Not at all. When I got the call from coach (Ray) Tanner, he usually warms me up during our conversations. He usually starts me off with a joke, so that’s what I’m assuming when he calls me. I was in complete shock. I’m honored and grateful because this does something special for my platform. It adds an extra layer of credibility and I’m able to use that when I’m able to speak, when I go minister to the youth, which is my passion. It’s really overwhelming to be honest with you. It’s an overwhelming feeling that I didn’t expect. But I’m honored and I’m grateful and I’m so happy to be a part of this university.”
Is is more special since you've been around the university for a long time?
“It’s more about the team we had, we were special. Our defensive mindset, that ferocious mindset we had, it was contagious. More than anything, I had a great group of guys I played with and a great group of coaches who put me in a position to be successful. I was very familiar with the scheme when I got here because it’s what I ran in high school, and they knew that. They knew my strengths, they knew my weaknesses, and they put me in positions I could excel, and so did my teammates.”
How did South Carolina impact you?
“Many ways. I matured. I became independent for the first time ever in my life. It’s amazing when you do things, and I haven’t been perfect in my life, but when you do things the right way and do them the right way most of the time, it usually comes back to you in a good way. This university has changed my life. During this time in my life I learned so much about myself…I feel like a completely different person. Being 27 and looking back at that time, it’s an out of body experience.”
What made you want to start giving back to the community?
“It was a combination of things. I had a mother who’s experienced a lot of adversity and I saw her experience so much adversity. Genetically it’s in me to be resilient. Also, when your dreams are snatched away from you in an instant when you dislocate your right knee on national television in front of everybody to see, you have to find some type of meaning if you want to move forward with my life. It was painful, and I was suffering. I say this everywhere I go, suffering is no longer suffering the moment you give it meaning. The meaning for what I went through was to share it with others.”
What's this moment like for you?
“It’s hard to put it into words that I’m even in this situation. I didn’t get here by myself. I have to remember that. I always will remember that. My family is here tonight, my beautiful wife is here and some of my best friends. My teammates, my coaches and every person who was with me in my time here, they all played a part in me being able to go into the Hall of Fame. It’s just amazing to say that.”
Favorite memory from your playing days?
“I knew I could fit in after that Georgia game my first year, the second game of the year. It gave me that confidence. I’ll never forget before the game started, Spencer Lanning—who was one of our team captains at the time—looked me dead in my eyes and told me to control what I can control. That gave me a calming presence. It gave me confidence to be myself.”
What's it like to help mentor the current players?
“What does it mean to me? It gives me life. It gives me purpose to share and to listen. Everybody needs someone to listen to them. I truly believe that. If I can be that person for the rest of my life and continue to do that in some form or fashion, I think I’ll be OK.”
Reaction to getting the call about getting inducted into the Hall of Fame?
“It was surprising. You go through life and you get going in your day-to-day life, you kind of know you did some special things. When you’re able to get recognized for it and it takes so long to come about, it’s just surprise and shock. I remember calling my mom and saying, ‘Hey, coach Tanner called, you have any idea what he could be calling about?’ Its’ surprise, not knowing the call was going to be, ‘Hey, you’re going in the Hall of Fame.’ It’s amazing to get that call to be recognized for what you did for the university and what you stood for, it means a lot to everybody here.”
What are the emotions like getting ready for something like this?
“From last night to my parents getting in town, it sets in on you and it’s just proud. You start back in 1998 where we’re in and out of everything and going 0-11 and you come up to now. It’s like, ‘I’m proud to be a Gamecock.’ How many people could say that in 1998 or 1999 when we’re 0-11? Just seeing To see where the program’s going and knowing you had something to do with starting it from there to now, and overall with all our sports. You talk about track; you talk about basketball—guys and girls—we’re in the nation now. People know who the hell South Carolina is. I’m so grateful I chose school over any school in the country.”
Favorite memory from your playing days?
“Favorite memory? If I didn’t’ say the outback bowl, that’d be bad. But I will say it’s the New Mexico State game after being 0-11. I know everybody doesn’t know what it’s like to be 0-11 but everybody committed that summer. My cousin played on that team as a tailback and we played against each other in high school. I knew we were going to win that game. Everybody committed and stayed in town that summer. It took a certain commitment from everybody on that team to say enough is enough; 0-11? We’re better than that. That’s probably the biggest win in my life."
Do you hope your records stay intact for a while?
“C’mon. You hope it doesn’t, but that’s why records are made to be broken. Whatever kid out there does it, I’ll be happy. Number one, because he chose the university of South Carolina—one of the best places to go to school, I swear to God to you—and to have somebody say they broke your record, that’s enough.”