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Marcus Lattimore’s NFL Career Ends Before It Starts

Posted on November 03, 2014 by Dean Hybl
During an all-too-short career, Marcus Lattimore showed that he was an amazing talent.

During an all-too-short career, Marcus Lattimore showed that he was an amazing talent.

Everyone knows that injuries are a regular part of football, but when they curtail the career of a promising player it is still disheartening. Such is the case with the announcement that former University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is likely retiring from the San Francisco 49ers without ever playing a game in the NFL.

From the moment Lattimore joined the South Carolina Gamecocks after a standout career at Byrnes High School, it was clear that he was a difference maker.

In just his second career game, Lattimore rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns to lift the Gamecocks to a victory over the University of Georgia. Later in the season he helped USC to a victory over number one Alabama as the Gamecocks reached the SEC Championship Game for the only time in school history.

He finished the season with 1,197 yards rushing (4.8 yards per attempt) and 17 touchdowns.

As a sophomore, he seemed headed to All-America status and was discussed as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate after rushing for 176 yards against Georgia and 246 yards against Navy.

He was helping the Gamecocks to their sixth victory in their first seven games when he suffered a severe knee injury against Mississippi State.

Despite the injury to Lattimore, the Gamecocks finished 11-2 and in the top 10 in the final AP rankings.

After intense rehab, Lattimore returned to the lineup to start the 2012 season and rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt in the season opener.

The Gamecocks bolted to a 6-0 start and Lattimore was a huge reason as he rushed for 549 yards (including three 100 yard games) and nine touchdowns.

After being limited in losses to LSU and Florida, Lattimore was off to a strong start against Tennessee with 65 yards rushing and a touchdown.

However, during the game Lattimore suffered a gruesome knee injury (torn ACL, PCL, and MCL) that would prove to be career ending.

Lattimore worked hard to recover from his two major injuries.

Lattimore worked hard to recover from his two major injuries.

A popular athlete throughout his home state of South Carolina, Lattimore became even more of a hero following his injury. Following his second injury, many students held an impromptu rally for their injured star.

Despite his injuries, Lattimore was still optimistic about his football future and while rehabbing for the second time declared himself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Illustrating the level of talent possessed by the talented running back, the San Francisco 49ers used a fourth round draft pick on a player coming off two major injuries.

The running back depth of the 49ers, who in the 2013 season played in the NFC Championship Game for the third straight year, afforded them the ability to let Lattimore spend the season rehabbing his injuries.

It was hoped he would be ready to start the 2014 season, but he suffered minor setbacks during pre-season workouts and returned to the physically unable to perform list.

He returned to practice last week, but nagging pain has made it clear to Lattimore that his career as a football player is over.

Football history is full of great talents whose careers were cut short due to serious injuries. Gale Sayers, Terrell Davis, Jamaal Anderson and Marcus DuPree are just some of the better known players whose careers were cut short due to serious injuries.

For those outside the Southeast, the early retirement of Lattimore is likely met with little more than a shrug, but for those who saw him play, his inability to return to the field leaves emptiness and wonderment of what might have been.

Fortunately, while Marcus Lattimore was a great football player, by all accounts he seems to be equally as great a person as he was an athlete. He has already started a foundation that recently made donations to local high schools to support concussion monitoring.

Even though he will never become wealthy as an NFL player, you can bet that he will soon settle into a valuable position mentoring young athletes and will certainly have a major impact on the lives of many young men and women before he is done.

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