COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Former Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore says he will be ready for the 2013 NFL season.
During an interview with the NFL Network, Lattimore says he is making significant progress while rehabbing his injured knee in Florida over the past two months.
"I feel great. I've been jogging in the pool. I'll be jogging on land in two weeks," said Lattimore. "I'm going at a rate I knew I could."
The former Gamecock runningback is recovering from a horrific knee injury he suffered in October against Tennessee.
Lattimore had surgery to repair multiple knee ligaments and his timeline to get back on the field has some questioning whether he is being realistic about his comeback. Lattimore, who most draft analysts say would be a sure-fire first round draft pick if healthy, is rehabbing under the guidance of world-renowned sports medicine guru Dr. James Andrews.
"I believe in myself and Dr. Andrews actually said 'you're going to shock the world.' So I quoted him and I really do believe I'll be ready," said Lattimore.
South Carolina's all-time touchdowns leader has been spending this week in Alabama at the Senior Bowl, mingling with players and talking with NFL teams about his chances in the 2013 draft.
In December, Lattimore announced he would skip his senior season and enter the draft, despite an uncertain recovery from his injury.
Lattimore agrees he would be a first-round pick if he were healthy right now, but understands the reality of his situation
"I really feel like I would be," said Lattimore. "But, I'm not, so I've just got to get healthy and prove myself when I get on an NFL team and that's my plan. Staying positive through this knee injury is what you gotta do. The mental aspect of this whole thing is very important or you're not going to get through it."
The injured superstar is drawing inspiration from Minnesota Vikings runningback Adrian Peterson in his recovery. Peterson returned from an ACL and MCL tear this past season and ended up rushing for 2,000 yards, finishing less than 10 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season record.
"What he did is unreal. What he did this year is probably never gonna be done again. That's definitely motivation for me," said Lattimore. "When I start jogging and get a little stronger, I know it's game on then."