When you talk about some of the most "national" recruits in this 2007 class hot on the Cardinal radar, you may think of safety Harrison Smith, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, tight end Andrew Devlin or wide receiver Sean Wiser.
It's high time you moved outside linebacker/defensive end Kevion Latham into the think of that discussion. The 6'3" 234-pound pass rusher racked up 12.5 sacks, 83 tackles and two fumble recoveries as a junior at Greensboro (N.C.) Page High School. A one-man terror for opposing quarterbacks, Latham has ignited a national recruitment in the truest sense of the word with multiple offers each from the ACC, Big 10 and Pac-10.
Yes, the Pac-10.
Latham has no family on the West Coast, nor has he lived at any time that side of the Rockies. One link that helps make sense of this cross-country connection is that 2006 running back Remene Alston from Page High School was offered by both the Ducks and Bears before signing with Oregon in February. The Cardinal, on the other hand, found Latham due to his standout work in the classroom, where he holds down a 4.3 GPA (on a five-point scale) and took a slate of honors and AP courses as a junior.
The breadth of Latham's offers have come from his work on the football field. He has bounced between defensive end and outside linebacker for the Pirates, playing primarily on the weak side.
"I played just about every position," Latham laughs. "I just play where the team needs me."
"Sacking the quarterback is what I do best," he continues. "Being quick off the ball, reading the offense and knowing where to go and where not to go."
While his versatility is exciting, and his size is ideal for an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, some listed weights for Latham have left people wondering where he would fit in a 4-3 college defense. Some of that confusion came from a listing dating to Latham's freshman year, when he was measured 6'2" and 208 pounds. As is the case for high schoolers, he has grown since and played at 225 pounds in the fall. He has added another 10 pounds since but is looking to beef up no further during his prep playing days.
"Coaches tell me that I'm the perfect weight. They can put the weight on me when I get to college," Latham describes. "I'm not trying to gain any weight right now at all. All I want to do is turn fat into muscle. My speed is my greatest weapon, and I don't want to lose my speed."
More to the point, the breadth and quality of Latham's scholarship offers should quash any questions about the position he plays in college. The subject of more pressing exploration today is where Latham will call home during his college career. He hopes to have that question answered soon, with the goal of a college commitment prior to the start of his senior season, and is taking steps with his father toward that end.
"It's all open right now. I don't have my top five yet," the recruit relates. "My and my dad are going to try to see all the schools. I don't know exactly how."
Latham has already seen nearby North Carolina and Wake Forest. Today he and his father have flown to Penn State. Other unofficial visits have yet to be scheduled, though the Greensboro gem says he will make it out West soon.
"Sometime in July, though I don't know when yet," Latham shares. "We're going to try to see all three schools while we're out there."
Though he is unable and/or unwilling to declare any leaders among his dandy dozen offer options, the pride of Page High School does have the Cardinal high on his mind.
"Stanford has a great academic program and good football," Latham allows. "They're up in the top. I've seen their campus online. It looks like a great campus. My dad used to work in L.A. and said it's an amazing place."
The other question, of course, is how his father would feel about his son traveling clear across the country from the Tar Heel State. Would not distance be an important factor in the Lathams' decision?
"My dad is going to support me wherever I go," the son responds. "He said wherever I go, he will move out there with me."
"Anywhere that would make me happy," the younger Latham says. "They have to have a good atmosphere. They have to have a good football team. I have to feel comfortable with the coaches. And I want to feel like I'm at home."
More answers on the prospects for a Latham-Cardinal connection will come only after he and his father make their way out West. We'll check back with this Page prize later in the summer as he wraps his unofficial visits and narrows his field toward a college decision.
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