Marcus Lattimore makes a catch during USC's Pro Timing Day. (Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)
Greenville, SC --- Although not in the profession, Marcus Lattimore spoke in front of largest crowd in the history of the Coaches 4 Character program at the Redemption World Outreach Center, Monday night.
Prior to the event Lattimore, who has made several personal appearances around the state in recent weeks, admitted speaking to the large group of youth attending the event was special.
"The whole thing about this is Coaches 4 Character," said Lattimore.
"My whole life I have been fortunate to have a lot of great people around me. The main thing I want them to know is what really matters. Of course academics are crucial. Of course, in sports, you want to do the best you can. But the last thing people remember is how you treat them. That's my message."
There have been some tough times for Lattimore in past 18 months - serious injuries to both knees that have required surgery and the death of two grandparents.
Lattimore admitted that following his second injury, when his right knee was injured Oct. 27 against Tennessee, he thought his dream of playing in the National Football League Football was over.
"They told me I wouldn't walk for nine months, but I'm walking," Lattimore told the audience.
"They told me I wouldn't run for two years, but I'm running. I pray every night and I know God doesn't make mistakes. That is what keeps me smiling every day."
He admits venturing inside Williams-Brice Stadium for USC's Spring Game on Saturday, the first time he had been inside the building with fans in the stands since injuring his knee, was exciting and listening to Carolina coach Steve Spurrier call him the best football player ever to play for the Gamecocks was humbling.
"For him to even say something like that is a big honor," said Lattimore.
"There have been a lot of great Gamecocks come through. I guess he was referring to my character pretty much."
Although the draft is a little more than a week away, Lattimore still says he doesn't plan on watching and hopes to be alone when the team who chooses him calls.
"To tell you the truth, I'm really at ease right now," said Lattimore.
"I've done all I can. When I came out of school I knew what the plan was, to be able to do something for the scouts and I did that. I got through the interviews fine. Everything was great. Now I'll just wait and see what happens.
"I really don't have a clue, to tell you the truth. After the couple visits I took, a lot of teams like me later, a lot of teams like me earlier so I have no clue."
Willie T. Smith, The Greenville News