Marcus Lattimore made it official at a Wednesday press conference announcing that he'll forgo his senior season at the University of South Carolina and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. Lattimore is recovering from a right knee injury suffered midway through the 2012 season that saw him tear three of his four major ligaments. His timetable to return is 12-15 months. Gamecocks team physician Dr. Jeffrey Guy painted an optimistic picture in Lattimore's recovery, saying that the running back did not have any fractures or broken bones and will not need any additional surgery.
Lattimore said he heard from NFL running backs Frank Gore and Willis McGahee, who suffered similar injuries and went on to great success in the NFL. "I love this state and I'm glad to say I'll be a Gamecock forever," Lattimore said at his press conference. "Thank you for all your continued support."
Head coach Steve Spurrier said he remembered exactly where he was when Lattimore committed to play at the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks have won 30 games in the three years that Lattimore was on campus, and the USC head coach said that Lattimore's unselfish attitude and work ethic permeated throughout the entire program. He also credits Lattimore as one of his best recruiters, helping to bring players like Jadeveon Clowney to USC and to get Bruce Ellington to play for the football team.
Here is the press release from the University of South Carolina:
COLUMBIA, S.C. - University of South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore has elected to forego his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2013 NFL Draft, he announced today at a press conference at Williams-Brice Stadium.
A highly-touted recruit from Byrnes High School, Lattimore burst onto the scene quickly at the collegiate level. In just his second game for the Garnet & Black, the six-foot, 218-pounder rushed 37 times for 182 yards leading Carolina to a win over Georgia. It was the first of four 100-yard rushing games on the season and the first of three in his career against the Bulldogs. He later set the school single-game record with 40 carries for 212 yards at Florida, as the Gamecocks clinched their first SEC Eastern Division title. He finished his first campaign with 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns, both freshman records at South Carolina. For his efforts, Lattimore was a unanimous choice for National Freshman of the Year. He was also the SEC Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the first-team All-SEC unit. He was a first-team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com and a second-team selection by Walter Camp.
The Duncan, S.C. product was headed toward a Heisman Trophy-type season in 2011. He logged three consecutive 100-yard rushing games to open the season, including a career-best 246-yard, three-touchdown effort in a win over Navy. His season ended prematurely when he suffered a left knee injury in the win at Mississippi State in game seven. He finished the season with 818 yards on 163 carries, an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Despite playing in just seven games, he still earned second-team All-SEC accolades and was a member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.
Lattimore worked extremely hard in the off-season rehabilitating his knee and was ready to take the field when the 2012 season got underway. He quickly erased any doubts about his comeback with a 23-carry, 110-yard, two-touchdown effort in the season opening win at Vanderbilt, which earned him SEC Offensive Player of the Week accolades for the fourth time in his career. Lattimore logged three 100-yard rushing games in 2012, including back-to-back efforts at Kentucky and versus Georgia. He was on his way to another 100-yard game against Tennessee when he suffered a season-ending right knee injury. He was named honorable mention All-SEC by the Associated Press.
Lattimore leaves as one of the Gamecock all-time greats. He finished his career with 2,677 rushing yards, sixth on Carolina's all-time list. He is the school record-holder in both rushing touchdowns (38) and touchdowns scored (41). He ranks fourth in rushing attempts (555), third in points scored (246 - most among non-kickers) and tied for second in 100-yard rushing games (11).