– Were it not for a second devastating knee injury suffered in 2012, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore might be considered the top back in this draft and maybe even a top 10 pick. He’s that talented.
– But Lattimore does have those injury red flags and he is still recovering from the injury that ended his final season at South Carolina.
– Now, there is precedent for a player with his talent at his position entering the draft and landing in the first round and going on to a great career. Willis McGahee has done just that. So Lattimore is one of the most intriguing prospects on the board.
– Lattimore discussed the injury, coming back from it and who he takes inspiration from in his comeback attempt.
On medical testing:
“I was in there a good 3.5, 4 hours. They’re investing a lot of money into you, so I understand the process, and why they have to make sure everything’s OK, everything’s progressing.” “I’m pretty sure every team was there.” “Havent sat down with any teams. I start that tonight and Saturday.”
How does Willis McGahee’s story help you?
“As you know, he had a similar injury, pretty much the same kind of injury. He’s helped me a lot. Guys always bring that up when I come in there and talk to them. Willis came back from it, Frank Gore – bunch of guys. He’s a guy that worked hard. That’s what I’m going to do, and trust in God. I haven’t talked to (McGahee) lately, but I’ve talked to him a bunch of times. He just tells me keep grindin’. Keep doing what you’re doing. Trust in God, you’re going to be fine, you’ll come back from it.”
Will horrific injury be some sort of silver lining if he slides to the back of the first round and ends up on a really good team?
“No doubt. At this point, it really doesn’t matter where I get drafted, because I’m going to go in there and work hard, I’m going to do what I do, I’m going to do what I’ve been doing my whole career, and that’s just being myself. If I get a chance to play this year, I’m going to make the most out of it. And I feel like I will.”
Does Adrian Peterson inspire him?
“He’s a different kind of person. There’ll never be another Adrian Peterson. That definitely gives me a lot of motivation, knowing that he came back from it the way he did, he came back better. And that’s what I plan on doing, just coming back better. Seeing him do what he did this year, I think about that all the time.”
Comparing himself with Frank Gore
“I feel like we both run hard. He runs like nobody’s there. He runs with total destruction. I feel like if I could compare my game to anybody, it would be Frank Gore. He’s got low pads, he’s got great vision, he can see the whole field. Great balance.”
Taking it slow w/rehab
“Definitely, it’s very tough. You get frustrated. But you know it’s the right thing for you, the right thing for your future. I have to think about long term. Rushing back may not be the right thing to do, but if I’m ready, I’m ready. Just like RG3 said – he won’t put his career in jeopardy if he’s not ready.”
Thinking about what might have been?
“Yeah, I used to. The day after it happened, of course. I was thinking about what could have been, what could have happened, but I don’t think about that anymore. It happened for a reason. The reason for me to come back inspired a lot of people.”
McGahee changed style, didn’t have breakaway speed when he returned.
“I’m going to run the same way I usually do, because that’s all I know. I really can’t change my game. It got me here. I feel like if I change my game, I’ll be a different player. I’m just going to go out there with confidence, not thinking about my knee, just go out there and run like I usually do.”
What meant most from outpouring of support?
“I got letters from all across the nation and South America and everywhere. The main thing they relayed to me was they didn’t even talk about football, they just talked about what kind of person I was. It was an elementary school in Kentucky, they got on the field and made the ’21’ with the whole school full of students, and that really touched me. They say that in the end, it’s not about football, it’s about the person you are, so that touched me.”
People who helped him.
“It all started in middle school, grade school. I’ve always been fortunate to have great people around me, great coaches, great teachers, a great family. My mom, she’s been very influential in my life. I couldn’t thank those people enough, because they sacrificed a lot for me to be here today. I love everybody that I’ve come in contact with that’s helped me get to where I am today.”
Feedback from teams
“I met with three or four running back coaches last night. They all say they love my film. They think I’m a complete back, think I can do it all, but it’s really up in the air right now (as to when).”
Anxiety about getting hit?
“No, not at all. I mean, I’ve been hit 2,000 times, and that (an injury) happened twice. I’m not even thinking about it.”
– It seems unlikely that Lattimore will work his way into the first round. He might not even go in the second but somebody is going to take a flier on him and he’s got all the potential in the world to be a big time back at the next level. Even if that means putting a redshirt on him. The Rams could theoretically find themselves as the perfect fit for Lattimore in the third round or later. If they bring RB Steven Jackson back, they can take their time rehabbing Lattimore and have him ready to go in 2014.
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