I have to admit that I was pretty surprised when I heard the news that Marcus Lattimore was ending his South Carolina career and entering the 2013 NFL draft.
I really thought he'd give it one more try at the college level before taking his game to the NFL. Or maybe I just wanted to have one more shot of seeing him in action in the SEC before he left for good.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize it's time for Lattimore to go. He might have said shortly after his injury that he wanted to come back with the Gamecocks after suffering his second devastating knee injury in two years, but you know it was too big of a risk for Lattimore, who could still be a fine NFL running back with the right rehab.
Some team will certainly take a chance on Lattimore, even if it means not seeing any sort of production from him for an entire year. He's that good of a player when he's healthy, and NFL teams know that. He was rated the top draft-eligible running back before the season started, and while his draft stock has fallen, he'll certainly get scooped up in April. He'll need time, but some team won't mind having the patience to wait to see what Lattimore can do at the NFL level.
ESPN NFL draft experts Todd McShay and Kevin Weidl took a look at Lattimore's decision, and it seems very clear I'm not the only one convinced this was the right move for the bruising back.
Here's a little of what they said about Lattmore's decision:
It makes sense for Lattimore to get paid to rehabilitate his knee and do so under the care of NFL doctors. The injury he suffered against Tennessee is severe and the time frame for a full recovery is up in the air, but he seems unlikely to play until 2014 so Lattimore might as well take advantage of the resources an NFL team has to offer in the meantime.