In what has to be seen as a near ‘best case scenario’ University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore has been diagnosed with a dislocated right knee. He’s done for this year–and some suggesting next year–but given how bad things looked when he went down during Saturday’s Gamecock win over Tennessee it most definitely could have been significantly worse.
The video of Lattimore’s injury quickly went ‘viral’ because it was downright gruesome. Lattimore goes down, his leg collapses and twists back and forth awkwardly as he rolls around on the turf. The immediate concern was that he’d suffered a similar injury to the knee injury that ended his 2011 season. Rumors circulated of a fractured tibia which even sounded good by comparison. The fact that Lattimore escaped without any broken bones or significant structural damage to the connective tissue of his knee is downright miraculous.
South Carolina’s head coach Steve Spurrier updated the media on Sunday and had the first upbeat news about Lattimore since the injury:
“We’re optimistic his football days are ahead of him.”
The University of South Carolina will release a statement later today with more detailed information about Lattimore’s injury. Lattimore hasn’t used a redshirt season so he’s in the fortunate position of being able to take as much time as necessary to fully rehab his knee and still have two years of eligibility. This means that he could take all of next year off and play for the Gamecocks in 2013 which would be his junior season (at least for eligibility purposes).
Lattimore has NFL level talent–he’s considered to be among the best running backs in college football–but with season ending injuries in back to back season he may need at least one more year at the college level to demonstrate that he’s not going to be an injury prone pro. The difference for Lattimore could be significant–the difference between being one of the top five players chosen overall or becoming a late round ‘project’ selection. This isn’t just a matter of semantics for a player entering the NFL from college–it could make a huge difference in the money he makes as a rookie.