South Carolina running back Mike Davis burst onto the scene this season for the Gamecocks after rushing 52 times for 275 yards as a freshman. As a sophomore, he is already better than his predecessor Marcus Lattimore.
The career of Lattimore never came to fruition after his freshman season when he led the SEC in plays and yards from scrimmage and scored 19 total touchdowns. Two season-ending knee injuries robbed him of a career that could have put him alongside George Rogers as the best to play for the program.
Despite his injuries in the last two seasons, it was believed that replacing the production and leadership of Lattimore would be a chore; but nine games into his sophomore season, Davis has not only replaced him, but has been an upgrade. Prior to the season, there was a big question who the feature back would be for South Carolina this season, but Davis quickly proved to be the answer for head coach Steve Spurrier.
Davis ran for 128 more yards on 15 carries in the 34-16 win vs. Mississippi State to extend his lead in the SEC for the rushing title by 136 over Jeremy Hill from LSU. He is a different type of runner than Lattimore, who could punish opposing defenses with his 230-pound frame and with a violent running style. Davis is capable of running through would-be tacklers at 215 pounds, but he also has the speed to get to the perimeter and turn the corner that Lattimore didn’t necessarily possess.
Davis has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in seven of nine games this season and is 139 yards shy of matching Lattimore’s 1,197 rushing yards in his freshman season, which unfortunately proved to be his finest in Columbia. What’s so remarkable is that he’s averaging a little more than a yard and a half more per carry than Lattimore to achieve that yardage milestone. Davis is at 6.37 yards per rush while Lattimore was at 4.8, which ended up being his career average.
Let’s just hope the final chapter for Davis at South Carolina is a little different than the sad ending for Lattimore.
Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and Google and email him at SchmidtPatrick@gmail.com for media requests.