Marcus Lattimore has disproved his doubters before.
He cant wait to do so again.
I feel good. I feel like my old self again, the former University of South Carolina star running back said Thursday during a visit to Greenville.
Lattimore, whos now a member of the San Francisco 49ers, will get the chance to show whether he truly is his old self sooner rather than later. Preseason camp opens July 23, and the 49ers first preseason game is against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore on Aug. 7.
It has the potential to be a watershed moment for Lattimore, who has been on the mend and immersed in regaining his strength and quickness since a second major knee surgery in November 2012.
Its going to be a special day, Lattimore said. Maybe 80 percent of people I've talked to told me I couldnt do it, but now Im back, so its going to be fun. Im just going to let it all loose.
Lattimore, who was a fourth-round pick by San Francisco in the 2013 NFL Draft, is eager to test himself after participating in the teams offseason workouts and recent mini-camp.
Ive worked as hard as I can and Im prepared, Lattimore said. Ill go out there and take that first hit, then Ill get up and just keep on going.
Despite playing less than three full seasons with the Gamecocks, the former Byrnes High standout ranks first in both rushing (38) and total touchdowns (41) in South Carolina history and is tied for second with 11 career 100-yard games.
Now hed like to start making his mark on the next level, which may be easier said than done. The 49ers boast a loaded backfield that includes five-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore; Kendall Hunter, a fourth-year back out of Oklahoma State who averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season; former Oregon star LaMichael James; and 2014 draft pick Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State.
Theres a bunch of good backs, Lattimore said. But the best man will win, and I plan on being the best man, so well see what happens.
Lattimore said he is also looking forward to reuniting with former USC teammate Bruce Ellington, a rookie who like Lattimore was a fourth-round draft pick.
Thats my boy, Lattimore said. Ive known him since high school and weve been great friends. I was excited to see him.
Hes a guy that you dont even have to motivate. Hes a very versatile receiver whos going to help us get to that Super Bowl.