"The message Marcus gave me was tell 'em I'll be back."
With that statement from head coach Steve Spurrier, it gave all of Gamecock Nation the hope they've been waiting to hear from its injured star running back.
On Monday, thousands of Gamecock fans attended a rally to honor Marcus Lattimore and celebrate his 21st birthday. Lattimore suffered a severe right knee injury that included dislocation of his knee and ligament damage.
Among the speakers in attendance was Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier, South Carolina president Harris Pastides and team chaplain Adrian Despres.
Harris Pastides opened the celebration by offering up the thanks of many who appreciate Lattimore for what he's done for South Carolina.
"We're all here to thank him not only for his impact on Carolina football but for his continuing impact on the whole university."
Pastides spoke to Lattimore and offered up this statement on how he's doing.
"I want you to know that his spirit is strong and that he feels the depth of your prayers and all of our good will."
The impact of Marcus Lattimore is not only here in Columbia, it's across the nation. People from all over have been sharing messages among social media of their heartfelt well wishes towards Marcus Lattimore wishing for a swift recovery.
Not only that, Mayor Steve Benjamin and Governor Nikki Haley both declared today 'Marcus Lattimore Day' in the city of Columbia and in the state of South Carolina. It's easy to see that this young man of just 21-years old has made quite the impact on thousands upon thousands of lives around the world.
Team chaplain Adrian Despres also spoke today and shared a text from Marcus Lattimore that gave a good indication of the running back's feelings right now on all the love and support he's received.
"The love and support that I have received from the Gamecock Nation has kept my spirits up and all I can say is simply thank you and God bless you all. I will fight to get better. And I will pursue whatever road God has planned for me because, like many of you have screamed at me in the crowd, God never makes mistakes."
Up next was South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. Coach Spurrier wanted everyone to know right away that this was a celebration.
"This is not a memorial service. This is a happy birthday for Marcus Lattimore and appreciation for everything he's done and is going to continue to do for the University of South Carolina."
Spurrier also had a subtle jab at the Clemson Tigers but mentioned a remark that Clemson's head coach Dabo Swinney said the other day about Marcus Lattimore.
For once, there is something both coaches can agree on.
"I have to agree with him on what he said the other day he said Marcus Lattimore stands for what's right about college football."
You know Marcus Lattimore is a pretty powerful individual if can he get Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney on the same page.
Spurrier has a hope for Marcus Lattimore - "...can't wait till that number 21 is playing out there at Williams-Brice real soon."
Gamecock Nation is hoping the same thing but it will likely be awhile before South Carolina will get to see Lattimore on the football field.
But from the sounds of it, there's a real good chance the next time you do see Lattimore, it will be in a South Carolina jersey instead of an NFL team's jersey. It would be great news for the football team and this university as they could continue to be blessed by the presence of Marcus Lattimore.
"We're going to get Marcus for four or five years instead of three," said Spurrier. "That's one positive we know of right now. He's going to be with us."
He'll always be with us. It takes a special individual to draw up the support that was shown today and Lattimore will always have Gamecock Nation behind him.
Video of today's rally at GamecocksOnline.com
Gamecock Nation shows love for Lattimore
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