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NCAA Football SEC FootballSouth Carolina Gamecocks

Marcus Lattimore Makes Wise Move Declaring for NFL Draft

Marcus Lattimore South Carolina Gamecocks

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore is declaring for the NFL draft after his season was cut short with an injury for the second year in a row.

https://twitter.com/schadjoe/status/278172720674525184

Lattimore suffered a gruesome looking injury vs. Tennessee in the ninth game of the season and was out for the year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LHhL2e61JE

Initial reports said Lattimore broke his patella, broke his femur and tore all four of his ligaments in his knee and it was thought Lattimore may never play football again.

However, the following day Dr. Jeffrey Gray and head coach Steve Spurrier announced that Lattimore had dislocated his knee that resulted in a torn ACL and LCL, but that he did not break the patella or femur or tear the other two knee ligaments.

Declaring for the draft is a calculated risk for Lattimore, because he likely is not going to be able to do any sort of workout at the combine or pro day and his medical red flags are enough that some teams will take him off their draft board.

Lattimore also tore his ACL in a game vs. Mississippi State as a sophomore and came back to full strength as a junior prior to the season-ending injury.

He could have returned to South Carolina and play next season and restore his draft stock, but I think this is the smart move, because he will receive full-time care and treatment from NFL doctors and physical therapists while getting paid to rehab.

Lattimore has been compared to Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee who also suffered a nasty knee injury in his last collegiate game, but was still a first round pick of the Buffalo Bills, although he sat out his rookie season.

Running backs have seen their draft stocks diminish in recent years, so I don’t envision a scenario where Lattimore is a first round pick, even though he had a first round grade prior to the injury.

I can envision a scenario where he gets selected on day two of the draft, especially to a team that owns multiple picks in the second or third rounds and can take a gamble of the health of Lattimore.

It is the ultimate risk, because he may never be healthy, but if he is healthy, the team will be getting a first-round talent.

Provided he is healthy and produces well for whoever drafts him, then his second contract will make up for the drop out of the first round.

Lattimore burst onto the scene as a true freshman for the Gamecocks when he carried the football 249 times for 1197 yards and 17 touchdowns, but has totaled just 306 carries in the last two seasons while finishing the last two seasons on the sideline.

The six-foot 218-pound running back is as good as any running back in the nation when he has two strong legs underneath him, and football fans are hoping that Lattimore can get back to the form he displayed prior to the injury.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.