Despite suffering a horrific knee injury in a game versus Tennessee in October, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore has decided to take the next step.
The rising senior, who has not redshirted and is currently rehabbing, will forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2013 NFL draft, according to ESPN.com's Joe Schad:
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore will enter the NFL Draft; official announcement planned for this week.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 10, 2012
It's the right move for Lattimore.
He has suffered devastating knee injuries in back-to-back seasons, and coming back to South Carolina just isn't worth the risk for him.
He has already accomplished everything he needs to accomplish as a college football player to take the next step.
Lattimore rushed for 2,677 yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons in Columbia, won SEC Freshman of the Year honors and led the Gamecocks to the 2010 SEC East title.
He is going to have to answer the health question no matter when he jumps to the professional ranks, so why wait to do it? In the NFL, assuming he gets drafted, he will have access to NFL-style facilities and a high-level training staff that he can develop a relationship with as he starts his career.
Selfishly, though, I hate the decision.
Lattimore has been such a joy to watch, and the general consensus is that he's an even better person than he is a football player. That's saying a lot.
He has a bright future in front of him, and making the move to the NFL far outweighs the risk of getting hurt again at the collegiate level.