The chances he would play for South Carolina in 2013 were remote, and perhaps they weren't even that good for 2014, but they are now nonexistent barring a change of heart -- superstar but star-crossed running back Marcus Lattimore will declare himself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting. Schad reports that Lattimore's recovery is going well, and that an announcement is expected later this week.
Lattimore understands he may have to sit out this season, but has a goal of jogging and catching passes at the end of March for NFL executives and plans to visit with them at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
You hope that Lattimore is making the right decision here. There's no question that he should go if he is ready and able to do the things that teams need to see him do at the combine in order to spend a relatively high draft pick on him.
But some teams are skittish about spending very high draft picks on all but the most premiere running backs, and Lattimore's injury could knock him out of that group. No more than three running backs have gone in the first round since a bumper crop of five in 2008, and six of the ten that have been drafted in the first round since then have gone 27th or lower.
Still, you don't have to be a first-round pick to make a pretty good bit of money in the NFL. And if he's unlikely to play next season either way, there's not much benefit to Lattimore sitting around at South Carolina when he could at least be getting used to an NFL team's system. Besides, if Lattimore is as good as he looks to be and proves to be durable aside from freak injuries, he'll make his money. He should go.