South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier had coached a lot of very special players, but none may be more special than Marcus Lattimore. None may have a more difficult road to recovery either.
After suffering a season ending injury in 2011, Lattimore returned after a long rehab to show that he is still one of the most talented running backs in America. But after suffering what was one of the most gruesome injury to ever take place on a football field, Lattimore is going to face an even more difficult challenge if he is to ever return to the sports he excels at ever again.
It looked awful, but in actuality, Lattimore was able to escape without any fractures after suffering the leg injury on a clean hit against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. The official diagnosis appears to be a dislocated right knee as well as damage to several ligaments. While it is still bad, it could have been far worse.
In fact, after first witnessing the injury, many people – including myself – wondered if Lattimore would ever be able to play football again.
Spurrier is holding out hope, just not before 2014.
“We’re optimistic his football days are ahead of him,” Spurrier said.
Reports said that the junior running back was in good spirits. You could tell how devastated he was while being carted off the field for the second time in just around one year. But Lattimore has not used a redshirt, so depending on how the surgery turns out and what course of action that doctors say he can take, Lattimore could sit out the 2013 season in South Carolina, with the intent to return healthy for the start of the 2014 season, which would give him one final chance to return to the game and give him an opportunity to prove that he can play at the next level.
Still, that is a long ways away. Especially considering all that Lattimore will have to go through over the next 12-18 months.
“He knows what the road ahead is,” said Spurrier. “We’re all hoping and praying he’ll be back.”
For his sake, I hope that Spurrier’s prayers are answered. Nobody deserves another chance more than Lattimore, who will be celebrating his 21st birthday today.