MarShawn Lloyd will be the first to tell you that while he was healthy last season, he still wasn’t himself. Now a red-shirt sophomore, the talented running back is poised for a breakout season.
“Physically, I was there, but mentally, I knew I wasn’t there,” said Lloyd who struggled last year in his return from a torn ACL prior to the 2020 season. “I’m a competitor, so I wanted to be out there and compete at a high level. That all takes a toll on your body. Now, I feel great physically and mentally. My time is now.”
Lloyd was a highly touted running back coming out of Dematha High School in Maryland, but his college career went off the rails his first year with the Gamecocks after suffering a season-ending knee injury on the second day of fall camp.
After surgery and rehabilitation, Lloyd was cleared to play last year, and while he had some good moments, he still struggled.
“It was very frustrating because I thought I could do some things, but I wasn’t able to do some of them,” Lloyd said. “It’s frustrating in knowing what I could do before I got hurt, and then not being able to move the way I wanted to move and cut the way I wanted to.
“I never thought about quitting, but when I got hurt, I had a lot of thoughts like, why me? I love this sport, and everything that goes with it, such as working out and working hard. Not being able to do that put me in a bad spot.”
Lloyd played in 12 games for the Gamecocks last season, carrying the ball 64 times for 228 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Heading into 2022, Lloyd has something that was missing: confidence.
“Confidence is everything. It’s not just about having athletic ability.”
“Now, I can cut the way I want to,” Lloyd said. “I can change directions and run the way I want to. Everything has been great.
“Confidence is everything. It’s not just about having athletic ability. There’s a mental side of it, so being confident is really big for me. I’ve played football my whole life, and last year, I wasn’t confident in my ability. Now, my confidence is really high and that’s big for me.”
Lloyd knows there is once again a lot of competition in the South Carolina backfield, and while he wants the ball, he’s more than willing to share it.
“I’ve grown up a lot,” Lloyd said. “I’m older now. When you first get into college football, you have to get used to the change in the speed of the game. Now, I feel like it’s high school again. I feel like I’m ready to go out there, have fun, and compete against the best in the country. My leg feels great. It’s the best since I got to college. The biggest challenge last year was thinking I could do it, but I couldn’t. I want to show everyone why I was highly recruited and why I came to the University of South Carolina.
“For the first game, I just want to go out there and have fun.”
Lloyd wants to do everything he can to help the Gamecocks win, while also showing fans what he can do when he is one hundred percent.
“I have a chip on my shoulder,” Lloyd said. “I come in here every day and give it my all. I’m a gamer. I love to interact with fans and get to know people. I like for them to get to know me and that I’m more than a football player. I’m a human being.”
South Carolina’s offense was inconsistent last year, but Lloyd is confident that this year will be a different story.
“We have so many pieces that we didn’t have last year. Offensively, I think we’ll be a strong team if we can stay healthy. Every position is stacked with competition. We know that you can’t have just one running back. You need guys with different abilities. We have different backs that can do different things.
“I want people to see how much I’ve grown and the speed that I have. I look like I can knock people down, and when I get to the second level, I’ve got some burners! I want to show that I’m versatile and that I can make people miss, run past them, and run through them if I have to. I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I’ve been working hard, and I will do whatever the coaches need me to do. I want to show everyone that I have the whole tool set!”