There are many sources of inspiration that keep South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore motivated to fulfill his dream of playing in the National Football League.

Indianapolis, Ind. - You love to root for a guy like Marcus Lattimore.

Instead of being a lofty first round draft pick in April, Lattimore is battling rehab after a horrific knee injury he sustained in October playing against the Tennessee Volunteers. It was his second bad knee injury. He dislocated his knee and tore three of his four ligaments (ACL, MCL and PCL).

This former South Carolina Gamecock running is not dwelling on what might have been. Rather, he's open, honest and sincere about still having the opportunity to play profession football in the NFL.

"It's just a blessing to be here," Lattimore said. "I am not taking anything for granted. There are guys that would kill to be in my shoes, even with the injury. That keeps me going."

Lattimore admits that he was dismayed about the injury but that didn't last long.

"I was upset the day after of course," Lattimore said. "What could have been? But then I realized this happened for a reason."

People from all over the country reached out in support of Lattimore.

"I got letters from people from everywhere in support," Lattimore said. "The one that sticks out came from an elementary school in Kentucky. They send me a picture of the students aligned on a football field in the No. 21 position. They said it wasn't about me the football player but me the person. That kind of stuff motivates me to get back out there."

Other forms of motivation come from current players in the NFL, most notably San Francisco running back Frank Gore. Like Lattimore, Gore has bounced back from several knee injuries, even from his early days at the University of Miami.

"I have talked with him a bunch of times but not much recently," said Lattimore of his relationship with Gore. "He just tells me to keep grinding and do what I do."

Another inspiration was watching the play of Minnesota Viking star running back Adrian Peterson, who bounced back from an ACL injury to have a season for the ages.

"There is only one of them," Lattimore said. "He is a different kind of person. There is not another Adrian Peterson. He came back better and that motivates me. That guy is total destruction. He runs like nobody is there."

One day, and hopefully soon, Lattimore will be back. He insists that the injury will not change him as a runner.

"I can't change how I run," Lattimore said. "It's who I am and I will go out with confidence and run."

For now Lattimore continues in his rehabilitation. Here in Indy he spent close to four hours with doctors from all the NFL teams. He doesn't know where he's headed or what round he'll fall to. For Lattimore he just wants to hear his named called in New York come April.

"At this point it doesn't matter where I get drafted," Lattimore said. "I will just be myself and make the most out of it."

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