|South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore reportedly will enter the upcoming NFL Draft. (US Presswire)|
South Carolina Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore reportedly has decided to enter the NFL draft, and his situation inevitably will invite comparisons to Willis McGahee.
McGahee tore his ACL, PCL and MCL in the national championship game following the 2002 season. Many thought the Miami Hurricanes star would plunge from a top-5 pick to the third or fourth round, but Buffalo chose him with the 23rd pick.
“The situations are similar but there are some differences, including when the injury occurred and the recovery time needed,” said Dane Brugler, a CBSSports.com NFL Draft expert. “McGahee was hurt in January yet was able to jog and lightly work out, though not at full speed, prior to the draft. That was just 15 weeks after his surgery, with many calling it a remarkable recovery.
“Lattimore was hurt in October, but we need to wait and see on his recovery process. Everyone responds to knee injuries differently.”
Lattimore might have to sit out the 2013 season but hopes to jog and catch passes at the end of March for NFL executives, ESPN's Joe Schad reported. Citing a source, Schad reported Lattimore's recovery is on schedule and he's not using crutches.
McGahee, now with the Broncos, sat out the 2003 season before having a highly productive career.
Lattimore accounted for 1,609 total yards and 19 touchdowns as a freshman. His next two seasons were cut short by knee injuries. This year, he suffered extensive ligament damage to his right knee against Tennessee on Oct. 27.
“It's tough to put a round projection on Lattimore with all the variables,” Brugler said. “He was projected as a top-40 draft pick prior to this year's injury. There's not much he can do except hope the recovery process goes well. Obviously, if he can jog and make some athletic movements before the draft, that will only help him. Until we know more about his recovery, it would be unfair to speculate on where he could be drafted.”
If Lattimore had stayed healthy thoughout college, he likely would have been a top-15 pick, Brugler said.
This season, Lattimore showed some early rust and hesitancy before gaining more confidence.
"You could see him getting more and more confident and healthy as the season went on and it would have been great to see how he finished," Brugler said.
The 6-foot, 218-pounder rushed for 2,677 yards and a school-record 38 TDs for the Gamecocks.
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