Former South Carolina standout and current San Francisco 49er Marcus Lattimore is contemplating retiring from the National Football League.
Lattimore first exploded onto the scene as a freshman at South Carolina in 2010, rushing for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns. In 2011, his season was cut short against Mississippi State after only seven games due to a torn ACL in his left knee. He had already rushed for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns.
After an intense offseason rehabilitation program to nurse his surgically repaired knee, Lattimore was ready on the season’s opening day the following year. Playing Vanderbilt in the first game of the season, Lattimore ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, just 10 months after surgery.
He continued his dominance the rest of the season, rushing for at least 100 yards two more times, to go along with nine more touchdowns.
And then, all of a sudden, it was October 27. The Gamecocks were playing Tennessee. Lattimore had already rushed for 65 yards on 11 carries. He also had a 28-yard touchdown run. After breaking a tackle and cutting back across the field, a Tennessee tackler made direct contact with Lattimore’s right knee. He hit the ground and his knee followed shortly after. In instant pain, everyone feared the worst. As he was carted off of the field sobbing into a towel, players from both teams tapped him on the shoulder and wished him well. Lattimore, a humble and modest hero, had been looked up to for his perseverance and determination to battle back from his first injury.
The early reports were devastating. Doctors thought he had torn everything in his knee, potentially leaving him crippled. It was later determined that he had a dislocated knee, to go along with a torn ACL and MCL.
Determined, he was a standout at the South Carolina Pro Day, even though he only did his rehab work. He received a standing ovation from the scouts in attendance.
He was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, 131st overall. After spending all of last year on the non-football injury list, Lattimore was placed on the same list to start the 2014 season, potentially coming back after six weeks. He started practicing last week after the 49ers bye-week. He was praised for his efforts by coaches,
“I’m excited, happy, nervous, anxious, I mean all kinds of emotions, because I feel ready,” Lattimore said. “I’m blessed to be in this position, thanks to the 49ers.”
“This is special,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said when Lattimore returned to the practice field on October 29, his 23rd birthday.
After two days of practice, Lattimore sat out Friday due to soreness in his knee. Reportedly, he went home for the weekend to discuss his future in the NFL.
Harbaugh said that Lattimore was not present and is contemplating whether or not to continue his comeback efforts. While league sources are saying he will retire, his agent, Michael Perrett, told NFL Insideer Adam Schefter that “Marcus Lattimore has made no decision on his future.”
Lattimore has become a role model for many after his two injuries, proving that it is possible to bounce back when the odds are stacked against you.
*Section Photo credit to Jason O. Watson, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to FitsNews