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Marcus Lattimore: My NFL debut can happen in 2013

It's easy to root for Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina running back who saw his college career come to an abrupt and gruesome end when he suffered a severe knee injury during a game last October.

In an excellent profile by NFL.com's Jeff Darlington, Lattimore -- now well into his rehabilitation following surgery to repair three ligament tears -- expressed optimism he could provide an impact to an NFL team in 2013.

It's generally believed any team that drafts Lattimore will do so with the understanding he might have to sit out next season as he continues his recovery process.

"My goal for these next few months is to participate in South Carolina's pro day (on March 27) or push our own personal pro day back to April," Lattimore told Darlington. "Man, I honestly feel like I can play this year. I know my body. I know if I'm progressing the way I am, I'll be ready to play. I won't have to sit out a year.

"Whatever happens, once I get on that team, if they feel like I should wait a few games, if they feel like I should sit out a year, it's what's best for me. I at least want to put some input into it and see how I feel."

Lattimore has been rehabbing at the same Gulf Breeze, Fla., facility as Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who's recovering from his own serious knee injury. The two have even shared the same pool during rehab sessions.

"He's going to be awesome," Griffin wrote in a text to Darlington.

Lattimore will take a temporary break from his work at the Athletes' Performance at the Andrews Institute to attend the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week. He won't participate in any workouts, but he plans to meet with team executives, coaches and doctors.

Lattimore is extremely well-regarded, and it appears he's doing everything in his power to get one more chance.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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