COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said running back Marcus Lattimore had his right knee dislocated against Tennessee, and the injury is something he can come back from to play football again.
Spurrier visited Lattimore on Sunday and said the junior had a good attitude about his condition. Spurrier said South Carolina team doctor Jeffrey Guy was able to put Lattimore's knee back in place soon after he was taken from the field to the hospital.
Spurrier said the injury was significant, but discounted speculation Lattimore never would play football again. Lattimore has not used a redshirt season so he could take as long as necessary to recover and still return to the Gamecocks for the 2014 season.
"We're optimistic his football days are ahead of him," Spurrier said.
Guy said a statement detailing Lattimore's injuries will be released later Sunday.
Spurrier hasn't yet talked with Lattimore, who turns 21 on Monday, about his future. The coach said the full extent of Lattimore's knee damage is unknown, although he did not hear from doctors or trainers the most dire prognoses of broken bones and full ligament tears that popped up on social media. Spurrier said recovery will take some time, perhaps more than one offseason.
"He knows what the road ahead is," said Spurrier, who visited Lattimore Sunday. "We're all hoping and praying he'll be back."
That didn't seem possible to anyone who watched Lattimore fall or saw the slow-motion replays of the second-quarter hit. Lattimore was wrapped up from behind on a 2-yard run when Vols defensive back Eric Gordon came in low. Lattimore's right leg sickeningly flopped over and slammed against the turf.
Trainers immediately surrounded Lattimore. Eventually, players from both sides came out to comfort Lattimore and surrounded him as he was lifted into a cart and taken away by ambulance.
"I saw the look in his eyes when he was on the ground," South Carolina receiver Ace Sanders said. "He was really heartbroken about the injury. We were just trying to keep him strong."
A host of sports figures and other celebrities sent Lattimore support via Twitter, including New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, and Hootie and the Blowfish singer and South Carolina alum Darius Rucker.
"Praying for Marcus Lattimore. Hate to see the best RB in college go down. Keep ya head up my man!" Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray said on Twitter.
Spurrier said he's gotten so many messages of support, he believes Lattimore may be the most popular player in South Carolina history.