Going into the current college football season South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore had a lot questions to be answered. On paper he was easily one of the top running backs in college football. But he was coming off of a serious knee injury, and so his status for the duration of the season would be in question.
With any injury like his, how quickly a player returns as well as how close to 100% they are able to return has a huge impact on their season. I had said several times during the year that I felt like Lattimore looked great, but was not the back I had been so impressed with the season before. But he was running well, looked to be healthy and so I understood why they were playing him into game shape.
But in October of this year Lattimore suffered a gruesome knee injury. His knee hyper-extended and had multiple ligament tears. I have yet to re-watch the injury on purpose, because it literally makes my skin crawl. Lattimore was able to have successful surgery to repair the ligaments in early November, and according to school officials the surgery was a success and no further surgeries would be needed. But even at that, his availability for the 2013 season would be tight.
So, when I heard today that he was declaring for the 2013 NFL draft and would be ready for the NFL Scouting Combine in February, I was skeptical. And I still am. We are talking about less than 4 months of recovery from multiple ligament tears. Either they have replaced his knee with something out of the Six Million Dollar Man, or this is a smokescreen.
I think it’s wise for Lattimore to declare. Two horrific knee injuries in two seasons is more than anyone should have to deal with, so I totally respect his decision to get out and get into the league and start making some real money. But I think most of us will be very anxious to see in February when team medical staffs start poking around on him, and teams watch what drills he participates in as to just how healthy he really is. Lattimore’s talent is without question, but teams aren’t going to simply take him at his word that he’s ready to play. He’s going to have to show it on the field.
If I were an NFL franchise, I’d obviously take a mid round flyer on a talent like Lattimore, but I cannot imagine a scenario where his body will be ready to take the physical punishment of the NFL early in 2013. If he proves me wrong so be it, but for now let’s just be glad he’s going to be in the NFL next year and wait and see on just how miraculous his healing ability is.
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