Marcus Lattimore’s next carry in a real football game will take place in the NFL. The USC junior running back announced at a news conference at Williams-Brice Stadium Wednesday afternoon he will enter the 2013 NFL draft and forgo the remainder of his college eligibility.
AUDIO: Steve Spurrier and Marcus Lattimore at Wednesday news conference [17:58]
The question remains, when will Lattimore get that first carry in an NFL game?
Lattimore is in the process of rehabbing a major knee injury suffered in the Tennessee game October 27th. Lattimore dislocated his knee cap and tore several ligaments in his right knee. Of course, he tore ligaments in his left knee against Mississippi State in 2011.
Those injuries add up to a full season of college football lost by Lattimore. The Gamecocks will have played 40 games the last three season when they play Michigan in the bowl game. Lattimore played in 28 of them, and that’s not counting his brief appearance against Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2010 when he was knocked out after four plays.
So, imagine how much more a healthy Lattimore could have achieved at USC. Also imagine how much money he has lost as a result of the injuries. He has gone from a sure-fire first round pick to, who knows, a third round pick? That’s a difference of many millions of dollars.
Lattimore’s goal now is to get back to 100% as quickly as possible and reward the team that drafts him with the kind of performance he gave USC before his first injury. In his first 20 games at USC, Lattimore averaged just under 101 rushing yards per game. This season, despite playing in just nine games, he still led the Gamecocks in rushing with 662 yards.
He ends his USC career with 2677 rushing yards, sixth on USC’s all time list. He is the school record holder with 38 rushing touchdowns and 41 total touchdowns.
And in Spurrier’s mind, he leaves as the #1 fan favorite of all time at USC.