DURHAM, N.C. – Duke head coach David Cutcliffe announced on Tuesday the retirement of Assistant Head Coach & Run Game Coordinator John Latina, as well as the promotion of Marcus Johnson to assistant coach.
“John Latina’s career track record speaks for itself – he’s been an integral part of so many great coaching staffs and he’s mentored some outstanding linemen,” Cutcliffe said. “The bottom line is, the head coaches John worked with – and that includes me – became better coaches and better men because of his knowledge and dedication to the coaching profession. And there are a bunch of former players out there that owe a great deal of gratitude to him as he helped so many young men become not only better players, but better sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. His impact over the past four seasons here at Duke is easily defined – 33 wins and four straight bowl games are two of the greatest accomplishments in the history of our program.”
A veteran offensive line coach, Latina served on Duke’s staff for the past four seasons as the Blue Devils posted 33 victories, captured the 2013 ACC Coastal Division championship and appeared in four consecutive bowl games (2012 Belk, 2013 Chick-fil-A, 2014 Hyundai Sun & 2015 New Era Pinstripe). During his tenure in Durham, Latina mentored seven All-ACC picks includingCasey Blaser, Takoby Cofield, Dave Harding, Lucas Patrick, Perry Simmons, Matt Skura and Laken Tomlinson. Tomlinson was a consensus All-America selection in 2014 and first round selection of the Detroit Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft while Skura received second team All-America honors this past season and earned an invitation to represent Duke at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
Latina got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Virginia Tech, as a graduate assistant in 1981. The New Castle, Pa., native went on to serve on staffs at Pittsburgh (1982), Temple (1983-88), Kansas State (1989-93), Clemson (1994-98), Ole Miss (1999-04), Notre Dame (2005-08) and Akron (2010-11). Latina’s 34-season career includes 17 bowl game appearances.
Johnson, an All-SEC offensive lineman for Cutcliffe at Ole Miss who has spent the last five seasons on the Duke staff, elevates to assistant coach to guide the offensive front after serving in the capacity of offensive quality control for the past three campaigns. Johnson joined the Duke staff prior to the 2011 campaign and was an assistant with the football program’s strength and conditioning unit for two seasons.
“Without question, Marcus has emerged as one of the brightest young coaches in college football,” Cutcliffe said. “He obviously played at the highest level, and now has taken advantage of the opportunity to shift his passion to teaching, motivating and leading young men. I know our current and future players will love playing for him, and he’ll continue to be a huge asset to our entire staff.”
A native of Coffeeville, Miss., Johnson lettered four seasons (2001-02-03-04) as an offensive lineman at Ole Miss, serving as team co-captain as a senior. He helped the Rebels to 28 wins over four years, the SEC Western Division co-championship in 2003 and a pair of bowl game appearances.
After earning second team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press as a senior, Johnson represented Ole Miss at the 2004 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
A second round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2005 NFL Draft, Johnson spent four seasons (2005-06-07-08) with the Vikings and helped the squad to the NFC North Division championship and a playoff berth in 2008. After spending the 2009 campaign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he closed his playing career with a stint with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League.
Johnson, who graduated from Ole Miss in 2004 with a degree in criminal justice while minoring in sociology, has one daughter, London.