South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier delivered some positive news on Monday to an on-campus crowd that gathered to celebrate Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a devastating right knee injury on Saturday.
“The message he gave me was, ‘I'll be back,'” Spurrier said. “So he's coming back.”
A crowd consisting of 1,000-plus South Carolina fans gathered to show support for Lattimore's recovery and celebrate his 21st birthday, not expecting news about his future.
“This is not a memorial service,” Spurrier said. “This is a happy birthday to Marcus and an appreciation for everything he's done and is going to do for South Carolina.”
Several from around the SEC and the nation have reached out in support of Lattimore as he begins an uphill rehabilitation process. Added Spurrier: “I told somebody, he might be the most popular Gamecock player ever.”
The junior running back, who spent most of the last year rehabbing from a left knee injury, dislocated his right knee and sustained injuries to “several ligaments” against Tennessee, according to team physician Dr. Jeffrey Guy. Lattimore was ranked as NFLDraftScout's No. 1 ranked running back for the 2013 NFL Draft and projected first round pick if he decided to leave South Carolina after this season. But the injury has put his football future in jeopardy, making it impossible to accurately predict his current draft value.
Obviously nothing is set in stone and Lattimore still has until mid-January to make any final decisions on whether or not to go pro, but for now it appears he's staying in Columbia, S.C. Historically, the running back position at the next level has a shorter shelf-life and with two demoralizing knee injuries, few would blame Lattimore if he wanted to make the jump to the NFL now. But it sounds as if he still feels some unfinished business at the college level.