University of South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore confirmed Wednesday he is leaving the Gamecocks to enter the NFL draft.
At a news conference in Columbia, Lattimore said it took a lot of thought and prayer before he came to the decision to go pro after three seasons at South Carolina.
"It's been a dream of mine for about five or six years," Lattimore said. "It's going to be tough."
Lattimore choked up as he thanked head coach Steve Spurrier and his friends, family, fans and teammates for making his time at South Carolina memorable.
"We've had a good time," Lattimore said, recalling victories against Alabama and Florida. "I'm glad to say I'll be a Gamecock forever."
Spurrier, who called Lattimore one of his favorite players, said he 100 percent agreed with the running back's decision to turn pro. He said all of the team's recent success began three years ago, when he snagged Lattimore for the Gamecocks.
"He is one of the best running backs I've ever coached," Spurrier said.
Lattimore's future was far from certain earlier this year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury during the Tennessee game, injuring three of four ligaments. On Wednesday, team physician Dr. Jeffrey Guy gave a glowing outlook of Lattimore's future in football.
"[Lattimore's] knee feels great," Guy said. "He is on course for where he needs to be right now."
Guy said only one of the injured ligaments needed to be reconstructed. He said Lattimore suffered no fractures, blood flow issues, nerve damage or cartilage injury when he was hurt. He said Lattimore will require nearly a year of rehabilitation, and that no surgery should be required in the future.
Lattimore said he has been given the same recovery timetable by doctors at the NFL level. He said he expects to travel to Indianapolis to attend the pro-scouting combine in February.
"It's easily been the best three years of my life," Lattimore said.
Lattimore finished his college career with 2,677 rushing yards. He is the school record-holder in both rushing touchdowns and touchdowns scored, 38 and 41 respectively. He ranks fourth in rushing attempts, third in points scored and tied for second in 100-yard rushing games.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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