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Draft bound Lattimore has 'a long road ahead of him'

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore officially announced that he will forgo his senior season with the Gamecocks and enter the 2013 NFL draft Wednesday. 

In front of a room full of cameras and microphones, Lattimore's decision was rock solid.

But according to Dr. David Geier, Director of Sports Medicine at MUSC, his future is as sure as a pre-game coin toss.

"This injury doesn't statistically have that same successful outcome," said Geier. "It's certainly possible but it's very difficult."

Although Geier isn't treating Lattimore, years of working as an orthopedic surgeon and being behind the scenes at NFL combines has made the doctor an expert in these types of knee injuries.

"I expect this will hurt him a fair amount in the draft," said Geier. "Having been in the NFL combine and in the medical exam I know how rigorously his knee will be examined by team physicians and athletic trainers of every single team."

Geier says it's very unlikely Lattimore will go through physical drills at the combine in April.

However, the running back will go through countless MRIs and functional tests.

"It may be 28-30 sets of doctors that will examine that knee and see if they feel like it's stable enough to undergo life as an NFL running back," said Geier. "Teams will certainly assess their risk but will be very weary about how good he will be when he gets back... He has a long road ahead of him."

When he gets back and how good he will be mostly depends on how number 21 responds to the aggressive rehabilitation he's about to begin.

"It's going to make me a better person in the future knowing that I can get through anything," said Lattimore. "I will get through this."

Lattimore suffered his second season ending knee surgery in as many season's October 27 against Tennessee.

Dr. Jeff Guy, who performed his surgery, said Lattimore tore three of his four ligaments in his knee including his ACL which had to be completely reconstructed.

Guy says the good news is there is no cartilage or blood vessel damage and says Lattimore shouldn't need additional surgeries. 

Gamecocks Head Coach Steve Spurrier said he supports Lattimore's decision to enter the draft "100 percent" going on to say "at some point when you can play this game the way Marcus can, you need to be financially rewarded."

Lattimore was the unanimous choice as National Freshman of the Year in 2010.

Lattimore leaves as one of the Gamecock all-time greats. He finished his career with 2,677 rushing yards, sixth on Carolina's all-time list. He is the school record-holder in both rushing touchdowns (38) and touchdowns scored (41). He ranks fourth in rushing attempts (555), third in points scored (246 - most among non-kickers) and tied for second in 100-yard rushing games (11).

"All the memories we made, beating Alabama, beating Florida. It was so fun to go out there and have the confidence that you can beat these guys," said the running back.

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