When Marcus Lattimore suffered the second devastating knee injury of his college career, he knew it would be life altering.
However, the former South Carolina star running back had no clue it could have a positive impact.
Lattimore tore the three major ligaments in his knee in October 2012. Earlier in his college career, Lattimore tore the ACL in his other knee. He readily admits that he thought his football playing days were over when he was being carted off the field after the second injury.
Six months later, however, the San Francisco 49ers took Lattimore -- widely considered the best running back in the country -- in the fourth round of the draft. The 2013 season was essentially a redshirt season. The team expects Lattimore to be a contributor in 2014.
“Whatever role they want me to do, I’m ready,” Lattimore said Saturday in a phone interview from Columbus, Ohio, where he is working with EAS Sports Nutrition. "The rehab is over.”
As Lattimore, who looked good in a three-week practice window late last season, prepares to embark on his NFL career, he is reflective about his exhaustive, intense recovery.
“Really, the whole experience has been a blessing,” Lattimore said. “It is making a good thing out of a bad thing.”
Lattimore said EA has helped him with his nutrition and overall physical health. He said he is a bigger, healthy, smarter athlete now. Lattimore said the injury also has helped him spiritually.
Lattimore has spoken at several recovery seminars and he has been in touch with many people, athletes and non-athletes, who are recovering from injuries.
“I get so many emails from people who are recovering, whether it’s from a knee or a shoulder surgery,” Lattimore said. “They are just everyday people. If I can inspire them, I will. Again, it’s making the best out of this situation.”
Lattimore said he is going to be there for 49ers star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman as he recovers from a torn ACL and MCL he suffered in the NFC title game in January. The two have been in touch since Bowman’s injury.
“NaVorro is a warrior; he is going to be just fine,” Lattimore said. “I’ve talked to people who have seen him, and they say he is doing great.”