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Marcus Lattimore to enter NFL draft

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Injured South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is finished with college football. How long it takes the Gamecocks junior to make his NFL debut is anyone's guess.

Lattimore announced Wednesday he was giving up his final season to enter the NFL draft. He was considered a can't-miss, first-round talent after his first two seasons. However, a horrifying right knee injury in October has dropped his draft stock, and it is unclear when Lattimore might return to action.

Lattimore dislocated his knee and tore several ligaments when he was tackled against Tennessee. He had what doctors say was successful knee surgery and is off crutches.

He came into this season off ligament surgery to his left knee, an injury that cost him the final six games of the 2011 season.

Lattimore believes that focusing entirely on his rehabilitation with NFL team doctors will help him recover the quickest, a source told ESPN.

Lattimore understands he may have to sit out the upcoming season, but has a goal of jogging and catching passes at the end of March for NFL executives, and plans to visit with them at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Since the injury, Lattimore has spoken with other running backs who came back from knee injuries, such as Willis McGahee, Frank Gore and Eddie George. Lattimore believes the time is right to enter the NFL draft, in part to have as long a professional career as possible.

Lattimore's recovery is on schedule, the source told ESPN, and he also has the blessing of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.

ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.