Latham Goes In Depth

With offers from a variety of college football powerhouses, Indianapolis (IN) North Central senior defensive tackle Darius Latham chose Wisconsin - the Big Ten powerhouse that provided with the best fit on the football field and the classroom.

MADISON - The amount of options at the hands of Darius Latham gave him the pick of the litter in terms of college football powerhouses.

The 6-5, 285-pound defensive tackle from Indianapolis could have picked Auburn, which won the national championship two years ago. He thought about fellow SEC schools Florida and Tennessee, allowing him to play in a conference that has won the last six BCS national championships.

Latham also had plenty of options close to home, and had the opportunity to be a part of a top three recruiting class at Notre Dame or the rebuilding project at Ohio State under first year coach Urban Meyer.

But combine all those options and there was one thing they had in common in Latham's eyes – they weren't Wisconsin, which combined with its winning tradition, academics and history of putting players in the NFL made him confident in his decision to commit.

"I loved everything about them," Latham told Badger Nation. "If I don't' make it to the league, the academics and the degree will help me get a high paying job. Working with coach Partridge is going to help me get to the league. Wisconsin has a great reputation of getting people in the league. All the factors worked out well for me."

Rated a four-star athlete and the No.22 defensive tackle in the country by, Latham had visited Wisconsin, but didn't get a chance to see on that visit how defensive line coach Charlie Partridge coaches and interacts with his players. When Latham returned during one of Wisconsin's summer camp sessions to watch, he was sold on Partridge and the program.

"I was really impressed," Latham said. "The whole defensive staff showed me love, showed me where they projected me at and showed me how my versatility can allow me to do different things on the defensive line."

Throughout Latham's second visit, the one player the Wisconsin coaching staff kept comparing him to was former defensive end J.J. Watt, who was a first round pick of the Houston Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft. During Watt's junior season in 2010, he led Wisconsin in TFLs, sacks, quarterback hurries, forced fumbles and blocked kicks and was second on team in tackles, pass breakups and passes defended. In a word, the coaching staff feels Latham can help bolster a pass rush that dipped last season.

"It is a real honored (to be compared to Watt), but that success comes from hard work," Latham said. "It doesn't happen for everybody. I would love to be able to fill his shoes."

Latham came to the decision on July 2 and called the Wisconsin coaching staff on July 3 to deliver his verdict.

"I talked to coach Faulkner first, coach Partridge second and then coach Bielema," said Latham. "Faulkner was coming back from Missouri from his family and he was real ecstatic. His family was in the background yelling and stuff."

A standout basketball player as much as he is a football player, Latham averaged roughly 11.8 points and 7 rebounds a game last season for North Central High. He attributes some of his success on the football field to his abilities on the basketball court, utilizing good footwork and quick feet.

"It's become pretty natural for me," Latham said.

Following his senior football season, Latham plans to graduate early from high school and enroll at Wisconsin for spring football; hopeful that he can compete immediately as a true freshman.

"I really plan on getting to the mix early," Latham said. "I am a guy that doesn't like to be on the sidelines, so I plan to make an impact early. Focusing on one sport is going to help me a lot. People haven't seen the full me yet, and it's going to be something to see."

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