A Latta to be Excited About

It takes a special player to be offered by the University of Wisconsin before his junior year has even started. Consider Battle Creek lineman Kelby Latta in that class, as he has been holding a Wisconsin offer since late last spring.

MADISON – It's well known that football is a violent, physical sport, but Battle Creek (Mich.) Harper Creek lineman Kelby Latta experienced a whole new level of that during his junior season.

Not only did Latta break his foot and tore a tendon in his foot early in his season, Latta added a shoulder surgery in December that he is still recovering from.

"I got banged up a lot," Latta told Badger Nation. "I've put a lot of focus on running and trying to get healthy again."

When Latta is healthy, there's little question that he is one of the best linemen in the state of Michigan. He is so impressive that the 6-4, 290-pound lineman is an early three-star prospect by Scout.com and he was offered by Wisconsin and Michigan State before his junior year.

Latta, who has since added an offer from Western Michigan, camped with Wisconsin last summer, took an unofficial to the Ohio State game in October, took in a practice and was able to watch the Badgers play both Michigan and Michigan State.

"I love it there," Latta said of Wisconsin. "It's cool because they've been honest with everything they've told me. They've told me the truth about what they want. After the surgery, they told me to work on my grades because they'll work on my weight with me if I come there. They basically have taken care of me that way, telling me if I do this, they can do this. It's been really nice having them there for me."

Playing on both sides of the ball, Latta has seen most of the schools continuing to show him interest - Syracuse, Illinois, Penn State to name of a few - recruiting him on the offensive side of the ball. Only Purdue and Wisconsin have targeted Latta as a defensive tackle and with Latta's recruiting coach at Purdue – defensive coordinator Brock Spack - having left for Illinois State, the Badgers appear to have an advantage.

"That's what I like about Wisconsin, because they told me I can play defense for them if that's what I want to do," Latta said. "It gives me an opportunity to prove myself when the time comes."

The choice of whether he can play offensive or defensive lineman at the college level, however, is not the deciding factor for Latta.

"I would love to play defense because that's what I feel my instincts are better at and where I think I'll succeed more," Latta said, "but I just want to play where I can help us win, whether I go."

Latta also has to weigh the pros and cons of staying close to home, an option that presents itself with Michigan State located only an hour away. Last fall, Latta saw Spartans victories over the Badgers and Michigan.

"It's very appealing to the eye," Latta said of the offer. "Michigan State is a great program to be around and it's great to get an offer from a school near my home town."

Latta has kept a low profile this offseason, choosing not to go on unofficial visits or attend junior days to rehab his body. Having gained substantial weight during the surgery that laid him up, Latta has got back into a conditioning program that has him on pace to hit his target playing high school playing weight of 275.

Latta's ideal time line for his decision is to play his high school senior season not worrying about college, mail out some highlight film after the season and see what kind of new interest he gets before making his final decision in December.

While he is stressing patience, Latta has no problem listing the team that everybody else is chasing.

"Wisconsin is my favorite," Latta said "That's not a putdown to my other offers, but when I reach out to Wisconsin, I get a hold of them easily and they tell what's up, what I need to do and what they like and don't like. It's an open, really good relationship with them."


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