COLUMBIA -- South Carolina on Monday placed three players on The Associated Press' All-SEC first team, including running back Marcus Lattimore being named the conference's freshman of the year.
The best news for the Gamecocks? All figure to return.
Sophomores Alshon Jeffery and Devin Taylor -- along with Lattimore, a freshman -- were USC's first-team all-conference selections.
Sophomore cornerback Stephon Gilmore was named to the second team.
Taylor is a draft-eligible, third-year sophomore, but the Beaufort native hasn't indicated he is considering a jump. The idea of an NFL work stoppage could cause a lot of college players to strongly think about staying an additional year.
Ellis Johnson and Taylor's defensive coaches believed he would eventually emerge as a dominant pass-rusher, and he did this season with a year that included 7 1/2 sacks and an interception return for a touchdown against Tennessee.
Jeffery and Lattimore's seasons were a bit more documented.
Jeffery caught 79 passes for 1,387 yards and nine touchdowns, leading the conference in yards and yards per catch. With each yard, Jeffery is breaking his own school record for single-season receiving yards. Sidney Rice set the previous record in 2005.
The St. Matthews native is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given out later this week to the nation's top receiver. He'll head to Disney World this week for the national awards ceremony. (Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon is expected to win the award.)
Jeffery had seven 100-yard games, including wins against Georgia, Alabama and Clemson. He had his best game -- eight catches, 192 yards and two touchdowns -- in the first meeting against Auburn, which is now going on to play for the national title.
Auburn held Jeffery to four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown in the rematch, the Tigers' convincing win Saturday in the SEC title game.
Lattimore ran for 84 yards against Auburn on Saturday, pushing his season total up to 1,198 yards. Lattimore had four 100-yard games, averaging 168 yards in South Carolina's four SEC wins in which he played. Lattimore rushed for 212 yards on 40 carries in the SEC East-clinching win at Florida.
Lattimore hasn't scored a touchdown the past two weeks, but he still has 19 total touchdowns this season, including 17 rushing scores.
With one more touchdown, the Duncan native would tie Reggie Cobb's SEC freshman record for touchdowns.
He'll get one more shot, against Florida State in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. The Gamecocks accepted a bid Sunday afternoon to return to the Georgia Dome.
South Carolina went 37 years without playing indoors, but the Gamecocks will finish 2010 having played two consecutive games in a dome. Steve Spurrier said Sunday he hopes the second go-round is more successful than the first.
Spurrier wants to use the bowl as a springboard to return to the building for next year's SEC title game.
Lattimore kept the major awards from being swept by Auburn, which features the offensive player of the year (Cam Newton), defensive player of the year (Nick Fairley) and coach of the year (Gene Chizik).
Check out the Gamecocks blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/gamecocks/
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