After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore only has to look at Frank Gore to know he has a chance at succeeding in the pros.
Lattimore, who tore his left ACL in October 2011, dislocated his right knee in October 2012, tearing three ligaments in the process. Before the injury, he was expected to be the first running back off the board in April.
But Gore—who was a third-round pick in 2005—overcame two major knee injuries from his days with the Miami Hurricanes en route to four Pro Bowl selections, and he's still going strong with the 49ers.
That gives Lattimore some hope.
Not that Lattimore needs any proof that you can come back from such a devastating injury. His road back from his torn ACL in October 2011 was well-documented, displaying the drive and dedication the 21-year-old has to the game of football.
If Lattimore comes back strong from his injury, he's talented enough to be a Pro Bowler some day. He's a multi-dimensional back, with the power, quickness, vision and receiving ability to be a threat running and catching the pigskin.
He ended up rushing for 2,677 yards on 555 carries in his South Carolina career, bulldozing his way through SEC defenses when healthy. In his only full season with the Gamecocks in 2010, he racked up 412 receiving yards.
Will Marcus Lattimore succeed in the NFL?
In just his second season with the 49ers, Gore rushed for 1,695 yards and eight touchdowns. He's gone on to rush for at least 1,000 yards in five of six seasons since then, and the only reason he didn't in 2010 was because he played in just 11 games due to injury.
Gore actually talked to Lattimore after his injury in October. So did Denver Broncos running back and two-time Pro Bowler Willis McGahee, who also came back from a freak injury he suffered in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
Lattimore said after he was drafted by the 49ers on Saturday, via USA Today Sports:
Right after it happened, I doubted myself and I lost hope. But one of my good friends came over, I got a chance to talk to Frank Gore, I got a chance to talk to Willis McGahee, and I realized God doesn't make mistakes. He did everything for a reason and he put me in this situation. Now I'm with the 49ers. It's just a great, great situation for me.
Don't be surprised if it turns out to be a great situation for the 49ers, too.