South Carolina football's redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd is ready to bounce back as the best version of himself, following a slow first season of college football.
During a preseason practice ahead of the 2020 season, Lloyd tore his ACL, causing a setback in the former five-star recruit’s college career. Lloyd missed the entire 2020 season before returning to play the next season.
In 2021, Lloyd rushed for 228 yards and scored one touchdown on 64 carries. Lloyd said this season was difficult for him because he did not feel like himself.
“The way I wanted to play, you know, I still wasn’t able to do it,” Lloyd said. “My body just wasn’t ready, my mind wasn’t ready, but I’m a competitor so I wanted to go out there and pretty much compete as much as possible.”
Lloyd said sometimes the outside criticism would get stuck in his head and he wanted to prove to everyone what he could do, but he physically couldn't.
“With me, it was just worrying about everything outside of football. What people say, what people think,” Lloyd said.
Recovering from an ACL injury can be hard and it clearly affected Lloyd's offensive production. Lloyd said since this off-season he has had more time to rest and is feeling in much better shape.
“I’m back on top, 100%. Feel the best I’ve felt since I got here,” Lloyd said.
His progress hasn’t gone unnoticed. Head coach Shane Beamer said he can see the return to form in Lloyd.
“He’s done a nice job, one, of just getting stronger, getting faster, looks more explosive and is just really consistent,” Beamer said. “I think he’s done a nice job of his route running at the running back position, catching the ball. I mean, he’s done a nice job of just kind of improving every aspect of his game.”
While he's made strides in the physical aspect of the game, Lloyd said he's also made mental improvements and he's in a space where he can enjoy the game again.
“My mental is great,” Lloyd said. “I’m no longer focused on what anybody else think about me. I’m focused on just going out there, having fun.”
Lloyd appreciates that he can just play the game again. He said spending less time thinking as he plays gives him the opportunity to perform to the best of his abilities.
“I’ve been able to let loose and have fun, move without thinking, make cuts without thinking, just, it's been amazing so far,” Lloyd said.
One thing that is clear, Lloyd feels Gamecocks fans have yet to see his potential and he said he cannot wait to show everyone what they have been missing.
“I’m going out there and pretty much putting what I learned in the room onto the field has been great,” Lloyd said. “It’s been a long time and I’m just ready to just have fun and just show this state what they’re missing.”