Former USC tailback ahead of schedule for knee ligament tears
Marcus Lattimore won’t watch the NFL Draft in one month.
The former South Carolina tailback said it doesn’t matter to him where he’s drafted. He said he hasn’t even looked at draft projections. South Carolina’s Pro Timing Day on Wednesday was the first time Lattimore stepped onto the Williams-Brice Stadium field since tearing three ligaments in his knee on Oct. 27.
In the five months since the injury, Lattimore has recovered at a rate that surprised everyone except for those who know him best. Though he did not participate in most field drills at the advice of his doctor, Lattimore worked out for the 31 team representatives present, garnering cheers from former teammates and others in attendance. He said he expects to be ready for the first half of the next NFL season, ahead of the expected recovery time for such a severe injury.
“It was good to see everybody out there cheering me on and everything I did,” Lattimore said. “It felt great, but I know I have a lot of work to do.”
During his workout for team representatives, Lattimore said he did a lateral drill to test the speed of his feet and agility. He also did box jumps with five repetitions each for 18- and 24-inch boxes. He said he did forward and reverse lunges before finishing the workout with a drill where he bounced on one leg as far as he could.
Lattimore thought doing step-ups with his injured knee showed the most stability and progress. On the field, Lattimore caught a ball thrown to him and then took a few steps. He did not participate in any other drills visible to the public.
“It’s just motivation for all of us,” junior wide receiver Ace Sanders said. “The recovery time for him was amazing. Just for him to do the lateral drill that he did inside, that’s amazing … You see somebody with that type of determination and dedication get back and continue to chase their dream after everything that’s happened, it’s just amazing.”
Though USC coach Steve Spurrier has not heard feedback from team scouts, he’s optimistic about Lattimore’s draft stock. Lattimore announced his decision to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft in December.
“I think the word will get out after today,” Spurrier said. “He was very impressive … I think he’ll go early. I think he’ll go in the first round.”
It will be three or four months before Lattimore puts on pads. He has already met with the Eagles and the Patriots, and he has meetings scheduled with the Rams and other teams.
Though Lattimore is sure some NFL personnel have questions about his two knee injuries in two seasons, he said he hasn’t come across any who have voiced those concerns to him. He went through extensive medical examinations during the NFL Combine, and he’ll be in Indianapolis on April 5 and 6 for follow-up medical exams by teams.
“It was crazy,” Lattimore said of the combine. “It was like a zoo in there. They invest a lot of money into you, so it’s important.”
Working with renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews, Lattimore was told he was ahead of schedule in February because of how strong his quadriceps and hamstrings were. He’s gone from being doubtful for the 2013 season to having to slow down his rehabilitation.
“I kind of have to hold back right now at this stage,” he said. “It’s still pretty much healing. I’ve just got to do what I’ve been doing and just keep strengthening. That’s the main thing right now until I get the OK to do a lot of different things.”