Columbia, SC (WLTX) - About a thousand fans came out to show their support to Marcus Lattimore--and wish him a happy birthday while they were at it.
The school held a rally on USC's Horseshoe Monday afternoon. USC President Head Coach Steve Spurrier, School President Harris Pastides, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham were among the speakers. The crowd also sang "Happy Birthday" to the star running back.
Lattimore was hurt during the team's 38-35 win over Tennessee last Saturday. The team doctor said Lattimore hyperextended his knee and has an injury to several ligaments. Related Coverage: Send Get Well Wishes to Marcus Lattimore
Lattimore was not there in person--organizers say he watched the event on a livestream from home--but his family was present. And his loved ones got to hear from the crowd a feeling echoed by Head Coach Steve Spurrier.
"Can't wait till that number 21 is playing out there at Williams-Brice real soon," the coach said.
Spurrier said Lattimore had something he wanted to tell the Gamecock faithful in return.
"The message Marcus gave me he said tell 'em I'll be back, so he's coming back," Spurrier said.
The coach amplified that statement about a return to the Gamecocks, saying one of the positives of this situation is that "we're going to get Marcus for four or five years instead of three."
But he wasn't done. Spurrier said Lattimore was one of the most remarkable players he's ever coached in 23 years, even comparing him to Danny Wuerffel, the former Florida quarterback who won a Heisman Trophy under Spurrier.
During his comments, the Head Ball Coach even did the unthinkable: agree with something Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said.
"The other night he [Swinney] said Marcus Lattimore stands for what's right about college football."
And it wasn't just his coach who had good things to say.
"The biggest thing about Marcus is his focus a lot of times in life things happen both good and bad our focus can shift and I can honestly say knowing him since we were 10 years old his focus has been on Jesus," said Gamecocks backup quarterback Dylan Thompson. "I talked to him this morning and and literally his response was God is good and I know he has a perfect plan for my life."
It's a sentiment Lattimore echoed in a tweet that Team Chaplain Adrian Despres read to the crowd.
"The love and support that I have received from the Gamecock nation has kept my spirits up and all I can say is simply thank you and God bless you all. I will fight to get better and I will pursue whatever road God has planned for me because like many of you have screamed at me from the crowd, God never makes mistakes."
Lattimore also got two special acknowledgements for his birthday: Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin declared it "Marcus Lattimore Day" in Columbia, while Governor Nikki Haley declared it "Marcus Lattimore Day" throughout the state.