Marcus Lattimore suffered one of the worst knee injuries in college football this season in dislocating his knee during South Carolina’s win over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday.
UPDATE: Sunday, October 28 at 6:10 p.m. ET by Rob Goldberg
South Carolina's official athletics website updated fans, detailing the extent of the injury:
The ensuing hyperextension of the knee resulted in injury to several ligaments. There were no fractures or additional injuries, according to team physician Dr. Jeffrey Guy. Lattimore's surgically repaired left knee was uninjured during the play.
While Lattimore will still miss the remainder of the season, the lack of additional injuries makes rehabilitation easier.
This is encouraging for the running back's football future, which seemed to be in question following the vicious hit.
---End of Update---
Spurrier says Marcus Lattimore had a knee dislocation. "It's going to take a while obviously to recover and rehab this."— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) October 28, 2012
"We're optimistic that his football days are still ahead of him," Spurrier said. Team doctor says others returned from this, per Spurrier.— Darryl Slater (@DarrylSlater) October 28, 2012
Considered a top running back in next year's draft, Lattimore took a vicious hit to his right knee during the second quarter after bouncing a carry to the left side of the offensive line versus the Vols.
He was hit high and low simultaneously, and the damage was done when the defender's helmet struck Lattimore's knee. The brutal collision spun the running back, and his injured leg went flinging across his body as he landed.
Both teams stopped and took a knee, looking on as it became increasingly apparent that Lattimore wouldn’t be leaving the field without assistance. It was an honorable display that reinforced how much both his teammates and opponents have the utmost respect for this young man.
The devastation of Lattimore's injury gives flashbacks to the injury suffered by former Miami Hurricanes running back Willis McGahee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl versus Ohio State.
McGahee was considered a top, if not the top, pick heading into the 2003 NFL draft, and somehow made a stunning recovery from his injury, which was of the three-ligament-tear variety. While he may have never reached his full potential due to the injury, he still ended up with an accomplished NFL career that hasn’t yet ended.
Will Lattimore ever play in the NFL?
Similarly, if he can bounce back, Lattimore would still widely be considered a top prospect in the 2013 NFL draft were he to declare (he still has a redshirt year remaining), as it is a draft class with a serious dearth in running back talent.
However, it all depends on how he responds to this very challenging and unfortunate setback. It's worth noting that just last season Lattimore tore his opposite (left) ACL in a midseason game against Mississippi State. But obviously, what happened against Tennessee was far more traumatic.
This serious injury will certainly be difficult for the immensely talented back to overcome. But if he can, there's no doubt that plenty of NFL teams would be thrilled to have a player of not only his talent, but character as well on their roster.