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September 7, 2011

Power rankings: Lattimore off and running

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

There apparently won't be a sophomore jinx for last season's top freshman.

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore, the Rivals.com freshman of the year in 2010, bounced back after an early fumble Saturday and opened his sophomore season by rushing for 112 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-37 victory over East Carolina. His performance was good enough to make Lattimore the new No. 1 running back in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Lattimore's three touchdown runs matched a career high as South Carolina rallied from an early 17-0 deficit.

"I still had some [more] yards out there that I should have got," Lattimore told reporters afterward. "Our offensive line did a great job. I missed a couple of reads, so I'm going to have to go back and watch a little film."

Lattimore took over the top spot in the running back rankings from Oregon's LaMichael James, who was held to 54 yards on 18 carries in a 40-27 loss to LSU. Lattimore's rise represented one of many changes from the preseason power rankings.

Georgia's Orson Charles replaced Missouri's Michael Egnew as the nation's top tight end. Charles caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown Saturday in a 35-21 loss to Boise State, while Egnew had two receptions for 12 yards in a 17-6 victory over Miami (Ohio).

Boise State's Nate Potter moved to the top of the offensive line power rankings after the Broncos didn't allow a sack in their victory over Georgia. Potter's protection helped Kellen Moore throw for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

The most dramatic change at the top of the power rankings came in the special teams category.

Arkansas' Joe Adams didn't even appear in our preseason special teams rankings, but he soared all the way to the top spot after scoring on two punt returns in a 51-7 rout of Missouri State. Adams scored from 61 and 69 yards away. His two punt returns for touchdowns tied an SEC single-game record.

Adams' second touchdown provided one of the opening week's greatest highlights. He initially fumbled the punt, regained possession and cut in a few different directions before racing to the end zone. The last Missouri State player to chase him was long snapper Kaleb Mueller, who didn't have his helmet on at the time (see video at right).

"Both times, my group set their blocks well," Adams told reporters. "I didn't think the second one was going to go. I did a lot of shaking and baking. I was really tired at the end. I was about to score and looked to my left and saw the guy with no helmet on, and I knew I couldn't let him catch me."

Potter moved ahead of Ohio State's Mike Adams, while Joe Adams took over the top spot in the special teams rankings from Oregon's Cliff Harris. Adams and Harris were removed from the power rankings entirely because they were serving suspensions last week. They will become eligible for consideration after returning to action. Tulsa's Damaris Johnson, the Miami trio of Ray Ray Armstrong, Marcus Forston and Sean Spence and Ohio State WR DeVier Posey were removed from the rankings for the same reason.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster remained atop their respective positions in the power rankings.

We released this edition of the power rankings on Wednesday to account for the results of Monday's Labor Day evening game between Maryland and Miami. The power rankings will come out each Tuesday for the rest of the season.

The rankings put a special emphasis on recent performances while also taking career achievements into consideration. Our coordinator rankings exclude head coaches and coordinators who don't call their own plays or signals.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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