Lattimore speaks

On October 15, 2011, South Carolina's football season took a drastic turn, as star running back Marcus Lattimore went down for the year with a knee injury. Lattimore spoke to the media on Tuesday, talking about the outpouring of support since his injury and plans for his upcoming rehab.

USC enters this weekend's game against the Citadel with an 8-2 record. They have won six Southeastern Conference games for the first time in school history, and are 5-0 against the Eastern Division.

But for all of the records set, there has been a pall cast over the season since Marcus Lattimore went down against Mississippi State in a 14-12 victory over the Bulldogs.

At the time of his injury, Lattimore was one of the top running backs in the SEC with 835 yards rushing and ten touchdowns. Freshman Brandon Wilds has filled in admirably for Lattimore, breaking the 100-yard mark against both Tennessee and Florida.

When speaking Tuesday, the first thing Lattimore did was thank the fans for all of the support and love they have shown him during the tough times following the injury.

"Before we take any questions, I just want to say, it's been a real challenge for me going through all this, but my coaches, and my teammates, and my family, and all the fans, they've been so supportive," said Lattimore. "Every day it's, ‘get better,' ‘we're praying for you,' everywhere and I go. And I really appreciate that. I've probably gotten over 1,000 letters from fans. From the school, to my house, to my high school, they're coming from everywhere. I just wanted to get that off my chest."

Lattimore said that getting letters from kids around the state was the best part of receiving those notes.

"A lot of kids (sent letters)," added Lattimore. "From elementary schools, you know, the whole class would send a bunch of letters. That's really cool to me."

While it is easy to imagine a number of difficult moments since he went down, Lattimore said that the hardest moment for him came after the Tennessee game, the first one USC played after his injury.

"Probably the Tennessee game (was the most difficult)," said Lattimore. "I saw those guys out there playing and I just wanted to be out there. It was tough. I got down a little bit, and just shook it off. I couldn't really do anything about it. I didn't really talk to anybody about it; I just got down a little bit on the way back home. But I can't do anything about it, it's alright."

And with a 2-1 record following the Mississippi game, Lattimore said he has focused on the Gamecocks capturing victories rather than his own situation.

"The main thing is we're winning games, and that's what I feel is the most important," said Lattimore. "We've been winning these games because we're a team and we're playing as a team. Our defense we're playing great and next year (the backfield) is going to be real scary."

Next up for the sophomore running back will be surgery on his knee, which Lattimore said will likely come this week. He added that the training staff has been waiting on his MCL to heal naturally before going ahead with the surgery.

"There's no uncertainty about the rehab," said Lattimore. "I'm going to rehab as much as possible and try to get back to 100-percent as fast as I can. I'm getting better, starting to bend my knee a little bit more, and I should be having surgery coming up sometime soon. After that I'll get to rehab and get in there with Coach Fitz and start getting better. I'm just excited about that."

The wait for Marcus Lattimore will continue until 2012. There will be no wait, however, for the Gamecocks, who will take on the Citadel and Clemson to conclude their 2011 regular season.

While there is still an outside shot at the SEC East championship, there will no doubt be a respectable bowl game following the regular season. And for now, Lattimore said he is simply trying to get better and enjoying the time with his teammates as they continue to compete.

"I just love being with those guys," said Lattimore. "I love being with my team, and they've been playing their hearts out these last three or four games. I'm really proud of Brandon (Wilds) and I'm just glad to be there."

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