If Gordon was indeed trying to hurt Lattimore, he would have hiit his previously injured left knee which was closer to him on the play. This was an unfortunate accident that happens occasionally in football and nothing more.. Had this same hit of happened in mop-up time against a back-up RB,, it would never have been questioned. Besides, I'm not convinced that UT's secondary is even capable of planning and executing a dirty hit since they struggle to get close enough to make any kind of contact.
Yesterday afternoon, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gave the word that star running back Marcus Lattimore had suffered a dislocated knee cap and that his season was finished. Then, last evening, the school released a statement of its own. Like Spurrier, the release sounded somewhat optimistic that Lattimore might play football again. (And if you’ve seen video of the injury you know that Lattimore’s football future is clearly up for debate.)
Here’s the release:
University of South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a significant impact to the front of his right knee during the Tennessee game on Saturday. 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.
Lattimore is resting comfortably and will continue to be evaluated over the course of the week. Marcus has already begun the process of prehabilitation prior to surgery and to his eventual return to football.
Lattimore, a six-foot, 212-pounder from Duncan, S.C., was injured late in the second quarter of the Gamecocks’ 38-35 win over Tennessee. Prior to the injury, he gained 65 yards on 11 carries, including a 28-yard touchdown run, against the Vols.
Lattimore was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher this season, gaining 662 yards on 143 carries (4.6 yards per carry), with a team-leading 11 touchdowns. He was also the top receiver with 26 catches for 173 yards. He was coming off a season-ending left knee injury suffered against Mississippi State in the seventh game of the 2011 campaign.
For his career, Lattimore has rushed 555 times (fourth in school history) for 2,677 yards (sixth in school history) with 41 total touchdowns including 38 rushing touchdowns, both school records.
The bad news is that a great player will have to rehab himself from a second knee injury in two years… that the star will someday enter the NFL draft with scars on both knees which could cost him a lot of money… and that South Carolina will have to soldier on without their best offensive weapon, just as it did last year.
The “good” news is that Lattimore’s career isn’t necessarily finished and that there were no further injuries to the leg other than the damage to “several ligaments.” It’s a bad, sad story when that’s the good news.
Oddly enough, when this writer saw the injury and watched doctors place an air cast around Lattimore’s leg, I had hoped for a broken bone rather than an injured knee. Broken bones heal. Injured knees require endless rehab and even then questions will remain about future durability of the joint.
CBS’ Dennis Dodd reported over the weekend that Lattimore’s injury could be akin to the massive damage done to Willis McGahee’s knee in the January 2003 BCS title game. If that’s so, then here’s hoping Lattimore’s career further follows McGahee’s.
The ex-Miami Hurricane went through a number of surgeries on his knee, entered the NFL draft, and was selected in the first round. He didn’t play with the Buffalo Bills in the fall of ’03, but he returned to the field in ’04, rushed for more than 1,000 yards and captured the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award. He’s been playing ever since. In fact, he had 122 yards rushing and a touchdown on 23 carries for the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football last evening.
Those close to the Carolina program say there is not a better young man on the team than Lattimore. The kid deserves something good to go his way. Here at MrSEC.com, we hope he can indeed rehab his knee and someday thrive in the NFL just as McGahee has. If there’s any justice in the world, that’s exactly what will happen.
(And kudos to players from both South Carolina and Tennessee for gathering around Lattimore after his injury. Can’t remember seeing opposing teams do that after anything other than a neck-related injury. It was a class move that showed just how well-respected Lattimore and his talents are all across the SEC.)