WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Before the start of fall camp, Purdue defensive line coach Ruben Carter pulled Greg Latta into his office and offered a message.
“People don’t know you,” Carter told Latta, “but make sure they remember you after this season.”
It’s certainly fair that most don’t know who Latta is. The senior defensive end has only played organized football for a few years. In fact, the high-school basketball star didn’t play a down of football before college. He transferred to Purdue from College of the Deserts (Calif.) and saw limited time in his first season with the Boilermakers.
Latta’s final season could be his breakout one. He has positioned himself for plenty of playing time—and possibly even a starting job—at defensive end. Still, he keeps flying under the radar.
“I’m kind of like an unknown,” Latta said. “The offenses in the Big Ten don’t really know who I am yet.”
The fact that Latta went from limited football experience to playing in the Big Ten is a testament to his athleticism. What he lacks in experience, he makes up in abilities. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder brings tremendous speed and power off the end of the line.
“He’s a very talented guy,” head coach Darrell Hazell said of Latta. “I think he’s going to help us.”
Early in camp, Latta is making his name known. Coach Carter, Purdue’s new defensive line coach, is pleased with how Latta has developed. Placed opposite of the heralded Ryan Russell and Latta will get his chance to chase the quarterback.
“He’s a big part of what we want to get done,” said Coach Carter. “He’ll be big part of anchoring the edge for us and getting up the field vertically.”
Latta is still new to the game of football but he has picked up plenty along the way. The senior hasn’t missed a beat, even in just one season of Big Ten football. Now, he’s working to pass along what he has learned.
This fall, Latta is roommates with freshman defensive end Evan Panfil, one of the many newcomers he’s trying to help. Each night, Latta and Panfil draw plays in their dorm’s mirror, using an erasable marker.
“We’re just trying to get them better,” Latta explained.
Latta has learned plenty from Carter, whom he has spent just a short time working with. Carter played 12 years in the NFL and has added 26 years of coaching experience to his football résumé.
“The man, there’s not enough to be said about him,” Latta said of his coach. “He has really helped us.”
When Carter offers praise, it carries credibility. People will remember Latta’s name, just as the coach says.