South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore held a media session on Tuesday afternoon after Senior Bowl practice. Lattimore updated the status of his recovery from a knee injury he sustained during the fall. Prior to the injury, Lattimore was considered to be the top draft-eligible running back. He appeared to be walking normally on the field of Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Here are the highlights from Lattimore's comments. The questions from the media are in italics.
Can you update your progress?
"Dr. Andrews said that my progress is nothing short of a miracle. He said I shouldn't be walking the way I am right now, but he said I'm way ahead of schedule."
You healed quickly from your first knee injury, is that helping you right now?
"Basically right now, I'm rehabbing from my ACL. Just getting stronger is [sic] main thing right now."
Have you gotten past the "why me?" stage?
"I was past that two days after. I didn't ask, 'Why me?' I went to work and will continue to go to work. I'll come back 100 percent and better than I was."
Does seeing the success of Adrian Peterson give you reassurance that it can be done?
"It is motivation. Willis McGahee had around the same exact injury and he came back from it, so I know it can be done. Frank Gore did it. It can be done and I will do it."
Is your goal to be ready Week 1 for the 2013 season?
"That is my goal and it is realistic."
Do you have any big hurdles coming up in your rehab?
"Right now, I'm just strengthening. Getting my calf muscle stronger, my quad and my hamstring stronger. I'm just getting ready to run right now. I'm getting ready to run in two weeks. I'm going to make it look easy."
Did you ever think you may not have a football career?
"I never gave up hope. With the faith I have in Jesus Christ, there is no way I can give up hope. I know I will come back better, so never."
How much of the rehab process is mental?
"I feel like 80 percent of it is mental. If you don't do your rehab and ask yourself, 'Why me?' your knee reacts to that, and you have to stay positive or you're not going to come back. My main thing is staying positive and putting the Lord first."
Have you spoken with any NFL teams?
"Yeah I've talked to a few: the Jaguars, Cincinnati, the Chiefs."
Have they given you any indication of where you might be picked?
"No, not really, just casual conversation and asking me how I'm doing."
When did you start to realize that aiming for the 2013 season was possible and not having to wait until 2014 to play again?
"Maybe a couple of weeks ago when Dr. Andrews came in to see me. He said, 'You're doing remarkable. You're doing everything you can,' and his words were, 'You're going to shock the world.' That's what Dr. Andrews said. My goal is to be ready for the season. I'm working towards that goal."
Have you spoken with Willis McGahee or anyone else about the injury?
"I talked to Willis McGahee. He told me, 'You have no time to feel sorry for yourself. You have to get to work.' That's what I took from it. He's a great guy and he came back from it."
McGahee going early in the draft can give you hope as well.
"Yeah, but I know when I get on a team, I'm going to work as hard as I can. I know what I can do on the field. I can catch; I can block; I can do it all. There is no doubt that I'll be a starter."
You received a lot of support nationally, did you have an idea as to how well you were regarded before the injury?
"I did not to tell you the truth. I got cards from every school in the SEC and schools across the nation. That makes me feel good that they respect me as a player and most importantly just the person I am."
How high do you think you can go in the draft?
"I have no clue to tell you the truth. It could be first round. It could be undrafted, seventh round or sixth round."
You think you could go undrafted?
"If it happens, I'll be ready."
Why did you decide to come out rather than return to South Carolina?
"I feel like I've done all I can in college, and I feel like I was the best back in the draft without the injury. I wanted to get a head start on my career in the NFL."
Do you think you're still the best back in the draft?
"I'm hurt right now; I can't be the best back in the draft."