Marcus Lattimore will take the field on Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn. Lattimore hasn't seen game action since last October, when the star running back went down with a season-ending knee injury. Prior to the injury, Lattimore was among the best players in his entire draft class. On Thursday night, we'll get to see if he still has the same burst and agility that earned him such high praise.
Lattimore won't be the only NFL Draft prospect taking the field in Nashville, though. Vandy quarterback Jordan Rodgers is entering his senior season and hoping to take another step forward. South Carolina's defense is also loaded wth potential NFL talent, including one of the 2014 prospects, Jadeveon Clowney.
After the jump, check out the prospects to watch, key match-ups and questions leading into the first SEC East showdown of the season.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: 7 p.m. eastern time on ESPN
2013 NFL Draft Prospects to watch for South Carolina
Offense - #21 - Marcus Lattimore, RB - 6'0'', 220 pounds (Junior), #55 - T.J. Johnson, OT - 6'5'', 315 pounds (Senior)
2013 NFL Draft Prospects to watch for Vanderbilt
Offense - #11 - Jordan Rodgers, QB - 6'1'', 205 pounds (Senior), #2 - Zac Stacy, RB - 5'9'', 210 pounds (Senior)
Defense - #90 - Walker May, DE - 6'5'', 250 pounds (RS Junior), #8 - Trey Wilson, CB - 5'11'', 195 pounds (Senior), #15 - Archibald Barnes, LB - 6'4'', 235 pounds (Senior), #84 - Rob Lohr, DT - 6'4'', 290 pounds (Senior)
Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy (RB, #2) against South Carolina's front seven.
Since T.J. Johnson will be starting at center, as Josh Norris of Rotoworld pointed out, he won't get to be matched up against Walker May, unfortunately. That leaves us to watch how Zac Stacy will fare against a formidable front seven. Stacy is going to have his hands full all season with SEC defenses, so this will be the first of many tests for him. It could be a long night for the Commodores' running game.
Questions of the Night
How will Marcus Lattimore look in his first action since the knee injury?
As mentioned above, Marcus Lattimore is coming off a major knee injury. This will be our first chance to see how well he has recovered and how much explosion and lateral agility he has maintained. Vandy's defense will provide a decent first test for the junior running back.
How will Jordan Rodgers fare against a top-notch defense?
Jordan Rodgers has a lot to prove this season if he wants to raise his draft stock, and this would be the perfect game to do it. Playing against one of the better defenses in the SEC East, Rodgers will be tested right out of the gate. We'll see if he's up to the challenge.