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      Lattimore makes it official

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - South Carolina football star Marcus Lattimore announced in a news conference Wednesday that he plans to forgo his senior season to enter the 2013 NFL Draft.

      Lattimore said that coming to the University of South Carolina was the best decision for him and his time at USC "has easily been the best three years" of his life.

      Coach Steve Spurrier said Lattimore is one of his favorite players and agrees with his decision.

      "I completely agree that Marcus should go pro. He has paid his dues and it's time for him to earn his money," said Spurrier.

      Lattimore thanked his family, the fans, his teammates and coaches.

      Dr. Jeffery Guy said Lattimore hyperextended his knee against Tennessee on Oct. 27 and damaged three of four ligaments, but did not suffere any fractures. Only the ACL had to be contstructed, while the rest of the ligaments were supplemented.

      Guys says the surgery went great and Lattimore is doing perfect. There are currently no plans of future surgery.

      Lattimore also injured his left knee in 2011 as a sophomore but made a remarkable comeback. He rushed for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, both team highs, before suffering the second knee injury. He is South Carolina's career leader with 41 touchdowns.

      Despite the fact that Lattimore faces a long road to recovery, many analysts say NFL teams will be willing to take a chance on the running back anywhere from the second to fifth round.

      During a Tuesday conference call, ESPN draft analyst, Mel Kiper, Jr., said Lattimore has "first-round ability" and "is the only elite running back when healthy in this draft."

      Due to his injury, Kiper is calling Lattimore a "wild card."

      During the conference, Lattimore mentioned coming back to South Carolina to finish his degree when his football career is over.

      "I'm a Gamecock forever," said Lattimore.