Marcus Lattimore believes he would be the first running back selected in the NFL Draft if he was healthy.
“But I’m not, so I just have to get healthy and prove myself when I get on an NFL team,” Lattimore said Wednesday morning on the NFL Network’s NFL AM show.
Lattimore has visited Senior Bowl practices this week in Mobile, Ala., which is only an hour away from his training facility in Pensacola, Fla.
“I have talked to a lot of teams, but I am really just down here taking it in,” Lattimore said. “I shook a lot of hands yesterday, and I met a lot of great people. They are all rooting for me, and I really appreciate all that.”
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Lattimore tore three ligaments in his right knee, including his ACL, on Oct. 27 against Tennessee. Dr. James Andrews, who performed Lattimore’s knee surgery along with South Carolina team physician Jeffrey Guy, told Lattimore he was “going to shock the world,” Lattimore said.
“I do believe I’ll be ready (for the start of the NFL season),” Lattimore said. “I’m going at a rate that I knew I could. I feel great. When I start jogging and get a little bit stronger, it’s game on then.”
In December, Guy projected it would at least November before Lattimore is ready for live football action, but he said Lattimore’s injury could have been much worse.
“He was blessed by the fact that he had a lot of really critical (bad) things that could have happened to his knee not happen,” Guy said. “You look at a video and you say, ‘Wow, that’s an amazing thing to happen to a knee. They couldn’t possibly come back.’ But these days, we are able to put things back together and fix things that may not have been fixable 20 years ago.”
Lattimore will be able to jog on turf in two weeks, he said. He currently is jogging in a rehabilitation pool.
“It’s a real exciting time right now,” he said. “Staying positive through this knee injury is what you have to do. The mental aspect of this thing is very important or you’re not going to get through it.”
Lattimore finished his South Carolina career with 2,677 yards in 29 games. He was named the national freshman of the year in 2010 after gaining 1,197 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns. His 41 overall touchdowns and 38 rushing touchdowns are South Carolina career records.