True freshman difference-makers are hard to come by, but we had a prime candidate in frosher DB Rico McWilliams. Now, it's unlikely he'll see the field this season. Disaster struck on Saturday when McWilliams got tangled up with another player and suffered what looks to be a serious knee injury. (Update: SOS says ligament tear, surgery, out for season.) This is thins a secondary already tasked with replacing some big names (Gilmore, Markett, Allen.) McWilliams had the team's eye as a potential early contributor, but alas, McWilliams will spend a year rehabbing his knee and only then begin the process of learning the ropes of SEC football.
Lucky for Rico, he'll have some inspiration as he goes through what is surely a grueling process. Marcus Lattimore, fresh off of nine months of ACL rehab, had this to say about McWilliams at USC Football Media Day yesterday:
I just want to recognize one of our future leaders, Rico McWilliams. He had an injury last night. My season, every time I go out there, that's who I'll think about because of the way he worked Monday through Saturday. He did everything he could. Not the player he was but the way he treated me - he treated me with respect. I know he's hurting right now, but I know he'll get through it.
I'll admit, I got a little verklempt when I heard Marcus say this. Must make Rico feel pretty special to know Latty thinks so highly of him. In turn, it reflects very well on the kind of player Rico is and will be. We all wish Rico the best in getting healthy, and we look forward to seeing him on the field in fall of 2013.