Surgery set on Marcus Lattimore's knee

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore will undergo surgery on his left knee later this week, more than a month after his season ended when he tore a ligament and suffered cartilage damage while blocking for a teammate.

Doctors were waiting for the swelling to go down and the injuries to stabilize before surgery. The exact date for the operation has not been set, but will be sometime this week, coach Steve Spurrier said.

"We all know he will work extremely hard, as hard as any player, to get it back 100 percent and ready to go," Spurrier said.

Lattimore spoke to reporters Tuesday, walking to a chair with a slight hitch in his step, but without the crutches he needed as he left Mississippi State following the injury on Oct. 15. The sophomore said he is impatient to get the surgery finished so he can begin rehabilitation exercises and get ready for next season.

Lattimore said fellow running back Eric Baker, who tore a ligament in his knee at the end of last season, has helped him deal with his injury over the past month.

"I'm just talking to him a lot. He's been telling me, stay strong. He says right now his knee is stronger than it has ever been. It came back stronger than it ever was. That gives me a lot of confidence knowing that he came back from it and he is quicker than ever," Lattimore said.

Lattimore hurt his knee blocking for Bruce Ellington when a defensive player rolled up on his leg. He said he has watched replays of the injury trying to figure out exactly what happened.

"I heard it kind of buckle a little bit and I knew it was pretty bad," Lattimore said.

Lattimore led the nation in rushing after the first three games this season, and ran for 818 yards in seven games before the injury. Through 10 games, the team's second leading rusher is freshman Brandon Wilds, with just 353 yards.

Thousands of fans, including entire elementary school classrooms, have sent letters, telling him they are praying for a speedy recovery, Lattimore said.

Lattimore traveled with the team to the Tennessee game, but said being with his teammates on the sidelines was almost too much.

"I saw those guys out there playing and I just wanted to be out there," Lattimore said. "It was tough. I got down a little bit. I just shook it off. I couldn't really do nothing about it."