COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said running back Marcus Lattimore had his right knee dislocated against Tennessee and the injury is something he can come back from to play football again.
Spurrier visited Lattimore on Sunday and said the junior had a good attitude about his condition. Spurrier said South Carolina team doctor Jeffrey Guy was able to put Lattimore’s knee back in place soon after he was taken from the field to the hospital.
Spurrier said the injury was significant, but discounted speculation Lattimore would never play football again. Lattimore has not used a redshirt season so he could take as long as necessary to recover and still return to the Gamecocks for the 2014 season.
Guy said a statement detailing Lattimore’s injuries will be released later Sunday.
Spurrier hasn’t yet talked with Lattimore, who turns 21 on Monday, about his future. The coach said the full extent ofLattimore’s knee damage is unknown, although he did not hear from doctors or trainers the most dire prognoses of broken bones and full ligament tears that popped up on social media. Spurrier said recovery will take some time, perhaps more than one offseason.
That didn’t seem possible to anyone who watched Lattimore fall or saw the slow-motion replays of second-quarter hit. Lattimoreis wrapped up from behind on a 2-yard run when Vols defensive back Eric Gordon comes in low. Lattimore’s right leg sickeningly flops over and slams against the turf.
“I saw the look in his eyes when he was on the ground,” South Carolina receiver Ace Sanders said. “He was really heartbroken about the injury. We were just trying to keep him strong.”
A host of sports figures and other celebrities sent Lattimore support via Twitter, including N.Y. Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, and Hootie and the Blowfish singer and South Carolina alum Darius Rucker.
“Praying for Marcus Lattimore. Hate to see the best RB in college go down. Keep ya head up my man!” said Dallas runner DeMarco Murray on Twitter.
Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw said the team played for Lattimore in the second half, South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) holding on for a 38-35 win over Tennessee (3-5, 0-5). The Gamecocks moved up six spots to No. 11 in the latest rankings. They don’t play again until Nov. 10 against Arkansas.
The Gamecocks had to play without Lattimore the second half of last season, too, after he tore ligaments in his left knee against Mississippi State. South Carolina went 5-1 with their star rusher on the sidelines, an experience Spurrier hopes they can draw on down the stretch this year.