His last two college seasons were wiped out by devastating knee injuries, but South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore maintained an optimistic tone about his future while speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Friday.
"It's a blessing to be here," Lattimore said. "I just think about guys who are less fortunate than me, guys who would kill to be in my shoes right now, even with the injury. That's what keeps me going, that's what keeps me motivated."
Dr. James Andrews, Lattimore's orthopedic surgeon, says the running back is making progress in his recovery, but stressed that Lattimore has a lot of work ahead of him.
"He's motivated, working every day, he's way ahead of the game," Andrews told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, "but it remains to be seen whether he can play next year or not.
"The nature of his injury is the most severe knee injury you can really get. It's going to take a special effort (from him to recover)."
Lattimore is considered one of the biggest question marks of the 2013 NFL Draft. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament during his sophomore year at South Carolina before tearing three ligaments in his right knee last year. As a result, his draft-day stock has taken a significant hit.
Still, Lattimore isn't thinking about where he might play in 2013.
"At this point, it really doesn't matter where I get drafted because I'm going to work hard and do what I've been doing my whole career," he said. "And if I get a chance to play this year, I'm going to make the most out of it, and I feel I will."
Lattimore expressed hope that his two knee injuries will not compromise a future NFL career. After seeing the MVP-caliber season Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pieced together in 2012 coming off of ACL surgery, Lattimore is confident he can play in the NFL.
"There will never be another Adrian Peterson," Lattimore said, "but that definitely gives me a lot of motivation knowing he came back from it, the way he did, he came back better. And that's what I plan on doing -- just coming back better. Seeing him do what he did this year, I think about that all of the time."