Lattimore ready to prove he belongs in NFL

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Former Gamecock star Marcus Lattimore is just days away from reporting to his new NFL team.

Lattimore said Wednesday he is set to head to the San Francisco 49ers on Friday. The team drafted him last month, despite Lattimore's second straight season-ending knee injury.

On Wednesday morning, South Carolina's all-time touchdowns leader was attending a prayer breakfast hosted by the Palmetto Center for Women where he his mother, Yolanda Smith, was the keynote speaker. Smith talked about her strong faith leading her through the challenges of facing death and the difficulties of being a single mother.

Lattimore says he was able to draw strength from his mother's faith and guidance during his difficult recovery process.

He's also continuing to get guidance from his new teammate, Frank Gore, who also suffered two knee injuries during his college playing days.

"He just told me to keep being myself. That's the main advice you can give anybody," said Lattimore. "That's what I tell people. Just keep being yourself because that's what got you there."

Heading into April's draft there were question marks about whether Lattimore ever would get there. Considered a lock for the first round before his second knee injury, analysts had him being drafted anywhere from the second round to not drafted at all as he recovered from last October's injury.

The 49ers took a chance on a player some called the biggest "wild card" in the 2013 NFL Draft, and Lattimore is ready to prove the team didn't make a mistake when he arrives on the West coast later this week.

"It really hasn't hit me yet. The realization that I'm in the NFL," said Lattimore. "I still feel like I'm in college. But, once I get there I feel like it will hit me. It's just a blessing to be in this position. I'm going to take advantage of it right when I get out there."