Eric Latimore, DE (6-foot-6, 268 pounds)
When Eric Latimore arrived on campus he had sustained dislocations of both of his shoulders during his senior season in high school. Despite the injuries, Latimore continued to play through the season. He later had surgery to correct both injuries when he got to Penn State. He took a grayshirt in 2006 while going through his most intense rehab, enrolled full-time in January of 2007 and used last season to ease his way into the program.
Despite being redshirted last season, Latimore saw the bulk of his reps with the second team. "That's a testament to where Larry [Johnson] thinks he can end up. The guy wasn't going to play, but was in the two-deep for most [of the season]."
At 6-6, 268 pounds, observers describe Latimore as "massive" and "a mountain of a man." During the spring Latimore saw weak-side and strong-side work, backing up both Maurice Evans and Josh Gaines. During the latter portion of the spring he saw more work on the strong side, but "[Coach Johnson] will shift and rotate guys, so he wants everyone to get comfortable on the left and right," one observer said.
Approach: As mentioned previously, Latimore saw second-team reps in practice last season despite redshirting and not playing in any games. "Physically, Eric is a massive load to manage," an observer said. He's been called "a handful" off the line and has the ability to "dig into the blocks and knock back [his assignment]." He's very disciplined, "something Larry [Johnson] loves in his guys," an observer said.
Build: Clearly, Latimore is huge, and with that "comes impressive power." According to one observer, "His size allows him to really pick up leverage off the snap and release a ton of energy to get a surge on the pocket." Said to have very powerful legs and back, he continues to work on his shoulder strength to address any lingering issues he may have with his previous injuries.
Mobility: Latimore has good quickness despite being significantly taller than your typical defensive end. For example, he has a four-inch height advantage over Evans. "Eric brings a whole different look for the [offensive] line to handle," according to one observer. "He's quick out of his snap and is focused on making the corner more smoothly. He'll just lean in on the turn which really tests the [offensive] tackles. That helps him break by and pick up penetration."
Technique: Latimore has continued on his hand movement and "rip" technique (lowering the shoulder off the corner), and also continues to make improvements on "widening and lowering" his stance. Overall the coaches seem pleased with his technique and basic fundamentals.
Improvement: Latimore continues to focus on his cornering technique off the blocks and "managing his power and size to knock guys back." He's also been focused on working on his overall endurance and stamina to "get more out of him in the rotation."
Impact: Most observers expect Latimore to make a significant impact in Johnson's rotation. "I mean the guy was on the two deep as a redshirt. He should see a lot of work [this season] and really be key in backing up Mo [Evans] and Josh [Gaines]," an observer said.
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