It was one of those moments that you never want to see again, because once was one time too many.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a devastating injury in Saturday's win over Tennessee, dislocating his knee and damaging several ligaments, according to the Associated Press (h/t WashingtonPost.com).
A specific timetable on Lattimore's rehabilitation wasn't disclosed by South Carolina, but it's clear that this is a significant injury that will keep the star running back out for a while.
“He knows what the road ahead is,” said Spurrier. “We’re all hoping and praying he’ll be back.”
No matter where that road leads, the one he paved at South Carolina during his first three years on campus will last for a long time.
When he arrived in Columbia in 2010 as a hotshot 5-star recruit (via 247Sports.com) from Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., he was entering a program that finished last in the SEC in rushing offense in 2009 with an average of 121.23 yards per game.
In just his second game with the Gamecocks, Lattimore took control of the game and the No. 1 running back position with a 37-carry, 182-yard, two-touchdown performance vs. Georgia. It was one of those games where everyone in the building knew who was getting the ball, and there was nothing that the opposing defense could do.
Lattimore was just that dominant.
From that game on, it was clear that Spurrier recognized that the fun-and-gun offense that made him so successful as Florida's head coach in the 1990s wasn't needed in Columbia.
On the heels of 1,197 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns from the true freshman Lattimore, South Carolina won the SEC East for the first time in program history.
As an encore, Lattimore rushed for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games last year before injuring his knee at Mississippi State. Even though that injury kept him out for the rest of the season, he played a big part in South Carolina winning 11 games in one season for the first time in program history.
Lattimore's work in Columbia has led the Gamecocks program to its most prosperous era in program history.
Hopefully we will get to see Lattimore taking handoffs on a football field again sooner rather than later, but no matter what his future holds, his legacy within the South Carolina football program will be felt for generations.
South Carolina is no longer overlooked in the SEC. It is recognized as a power.
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