South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore's gruesome knee injury was not a sight for the faint of heart. While it looked as though it could be career-threatening, there is still plenty of hope for the superstar junior running back to return to football in full force.
As ESPN.com's Edward Ashcoff reported this past week, Lattimore made his intentions clear to come back despite a dislocated knee and alleged severe ligament damage. Over 1,000 Gamecock fans wished Lattimore a happy 21st birthday and a quick recovery.
Then, a standout schoolhouse story on social media provided further inspiration for both Lattimore and his numerous fans:
Inspiring note sent home with an Elem student in Lexington, KY. Shows how far the respect for Marcus Lattimore goes. twitter.com/JustinKing224/…
— Justin King (@JustinKing224) November 1, 2012
As if Lattimore needed any more motivation to rehab as rigorously as possible to return to the game he loves. He has plenty of people to turn to and now plenty of positive events that have transpired in the aftermath of his injury to get him through the tough road ahead.
It would be one thing if Lattimore had to really bust his tail to produce the phenomenal college career that he has to date.
To be clear, that doesn't mean he hasn't worked hard, but rather that Lattimore has such an immense amount of natural talent. That is how he became the 2010 Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-American in his first year in Columbia.
This also isn't the first time Lattimore has dealt with a major injury and stormed back. He blew out his other ACL during his sophomore season and came back this year with a fury, scoring 11 touchdowns in a little over eight games, including just one occasion when he didn't find pay dirt.
That is all the more reason not to count out Lattimore from reemerging into the player he's shown himself to be.
While he may not return to the field until 2014, it is probably for the best if it takes that long. The last thing Lattimore should do is rush back, and he clearly didn't do that after the ACL injury.
How this whole situation affects his future NFL stock remains to be seen, but you can bet that Lattimore will be back eventually for the Gamecocks to display his unique, natural blend of power, speed, hands and vision to fulfill his commitment to his hometown university. He is liable to key at least one more push for Steve Spurrier's club at an SEC or even national title, thanks to his ability to medically redshirt.
No matter what obstacles lie ahead for Lattimore, he has all the capacity to overcome them and take his special talents back to the field. He's already begun the road to recovery even before surgery, according to Aschoff.
Not a bad start.