South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore suffered one of the most gruesome injuries seen on a football field Saturday when he was hit by Tennessee’s Eric Gordon and his leg flapped in the wind and onto the turf, as if it was snapped in half below his right knee.
”I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything like that,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said.
The official injury announced Sunday is awful for anyone, but potentially career-ending for a running back like Latitmore, who was sure to be an early-round NFL draft pick: a dislocated knee.
Hardly ever are players from both teams impacted by a player’s injury, but both teams were emotional by what they witnessed in the second quarter of South Carolina’s 38-35 victory.
Lattimore was running through the left side when he was struck around the knees by Gordon, Lattimore’s right leg whipping around and slamming against the turf. South Carolina trainers immediately rushed to his side, keeping Lattimore flat on his back as the junior attempted to sit up and see the injury.
“I just tried to tell him to stay mentally strong,” said receiver Ace Sanders, whose eyes teared up when discussing Lattimore. “I saw the look in in his eyes when he was on the ground and he was really heartbroken.”
Coming into the game, Spurrier had said Lattimore was 100 percent and would carry the load for the Gamecocks. Lattimore rushed for 65 yards, including a breakaway 28-yard TD run, in the first half against Tennessee after coming in with 597 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns this season.
He became an instant star as a freshman, rushing for 1,149 yards and 17 touchdowns. Lattimore was on his way to eclipsing those numbers as a sophomore until the injury at Mississippi State. He holds South Carolina records with 41 overall touchdowns and 38 on the ground.
Last year Lattimore had surgery to repair ligaments and cartilage in his left knee and needed six months of rehabilitation and recovery before he was cleared to return to action.
This injury, however, might be too devastating for Lattimore to overcome.