In the moments before the Mr. Football winner was announced Friday night, there might have been only one person in the room that didn't know what name was coming: the winner.
Byrnes senior tailback Marcus Lattimore, who has become the face of South Carolina's most dominant program this decade, took home the state's top honor after rushing for 1,905 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. Berkeley quarterback Bruce Ellington, Daniel athlete DeAndre Hopkins, Goose Creek linebacker Malcolm Howard and Boiling Springs quarterback Dylan Thompson were the other finalists.
Lattimore - who has narrowed his list of suitors to South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon and Penn State - was the pivotal cog on one of the most prolific offenses in Class AAAA history. Byrnes averaged 51 points per game and piled up more than 7,000 yards in its 13-2 campaign.
"I really was kind of surprised with all these great athletes up here," Lattimore said of winning. "Bruce, Dylan, Malcolm and DeAndre are all great athletes and great players. For me to get this is a big honor.
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"I think I've been a great player. I think I've been a great team player. I've learned a lot from Byrnes High School."
The 6-foot, 205-pound Lattimore did it all for Byrnes this season. He accounted for 79 percent of the Rebels' rushing yards and added a team-high 53 catches for 751 yards and five more scores.
Lattimore had already been named the ESPN RISE Gatorade State Player of the Year and S.C. Coaches Association Back of the Year. He is among the finalists for the U.S. Army Player of the Year and some believe he is one of the most talented players in state history.
"We told him coming in he was going to win this," Hopkins said. "We kind of knew. It was an honor just to be up there with him.
"I broke the South Carolina state record for interceptions. I had 14 as a sophomore, nine as a junior and six this year. I was kind of overlooked, because of Marcus Lattimore's accomplishments at Byrnes. I think he is one of the best players all-time in South Carolina."
To view Hoke's CCU sports blog, "The Roost," go to TheSunNews.com.