Without them, there's no such thing as three straight 11-2 seasons. Four straight bowl victories? Merely a dream. SEC division title? No chance. Five straight State Championships? Maybe, but probably not.
These are the guys that put South Carolina on the proverbial map. These are the ones that brought a football program out of the inescapable depths of mediocrity onto the contending stage. These are the finally fulfilled promises of success and relevance an unwavering fan base has wished for years. These are Steve Spurrier's top ten prized recruits.
10. Marquavius Lewis
Depending on how his time as a Gamecock ends up, Lewis could very well jolt up this list. Just the fact that he's already on here and he has yet to play a down as a Gamecock speaks to how desperately the program needs him to pan out. An immediate impact would be welcomed with open arms. Say, you know, a sack/tackle for loss on UNC's first play from scrimmage, maybe?
One of my favorite players ever to watch play defense. He wasn't the highest rated recruit, coming in at only the 17 best player for his class in the state of South Carolina, but his drive took him all the way to the pros with some memorable collegiate moments along the way.
8. Melvin Ingram
111 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, 2 fumbles recovered for touchdowns. Oh yeah, and this:
It was a fun ride, my friend.
7. Mike Davis
As highly recruited as he was, Davis is honored here just for picking us, when he easily could've followed in his brothers foot steps and took his talents to Tiggy Town. An injury riddled junior year left some highlights unmade, but we couldn't have asked for a better heir to Latti. Best of luck as a niner Mike.
6. Chris Culliver
Culliver came to Carolina as the first five-star recruit since Demetrius Summers in 2003. And the fact the he now plays defensive back in the NFL is just one example of his freakish speed and athleticism (Seeing as he enrolled in Carolina to play receiver). As a freshman he allotted the second most kick return yards in school history with 809 and now makes millions of dollars to do so professionally.
5. Stephen Garcia
The first highly recruited quarterback of Spurrier's tenure, Garcia's time under center was up and down to say the least. That said, leading a program to its first ever win over the nation's top ranked team and first SEC Championship game is reason enough to call his Carolina career successful. But it was games like the one against Alabama that make his time as a Gamecock so difficult to digest. The man certainly had enough talent to play professionally. God love him and all the entertainment he provided.
4. Stephon Gilmore
Fun fact: Gilmore, DeVonte Holloman and Clowney all played on the same high school team. That must've been scary. As a former Mr. Football, Gilmore didn't waste any time solidifying his high school hype. He came in to Carolina in 2009 and started as a true freshman immediately, playing in all 12 games. A rare feat for anyone playing defensive back in the SEC. He was drafted 10th overall by the Bills in 2012.
3. Alshon Jeffery
ALLLLSHONNN!!! Sorry. I just spent the last 2:27 watching this highlight reel. It'll brighten your day.
2. Jadeveon Clowney
Some may expect Clowney to top this list given his extensive hype both coming out of high school and after The Hit. But without Lattimore setting the trend, you don't get highly touted, in-state guys like Clowney going forward. After all, he was only the nation's number one recruit for his class. It was certainly a blessing and honor being able to watch him as a Gamecock. Oh yea, that 4.5 sack manhandling against Clemson was fun too. LET HIM EAT. LET HIM EAT.
1. Marcus Lattimore
I won't even try to put into words the impact this man had and will continue to have for the Gamecocks. If you haven't read Jason Buckland's SB Nation feature on Lattimore yet, do it now.