- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
With only a few spots left in its 2013 class, Wisconsin was hoping to put the finishing touches on its 2013 class and continue building an already strong 2014 group.
Instead, the Badgers suffered a major blow to their 2013 efforts Monday when ESPN 300 defensive tackle and their highest-rated commitment Darius Latham (Indianapolis/North Central) decommitted.
“Honestly I don’t know the exact reason but it was something he felt uncomfortable with Wisconsin and he just wanted to open things back up,” North Central assistant coach Taj Darby said. “I knew he wasn’t totally sold and it had nothing to do with Wisconsin.”
The No. 23 defensive tackle nationally, Latham is planning to enroll early so his timetable is a little shorter than most of his brethren in the 2013 class. He committed to Wisconsin in early July, but Darby said Latham felt a little rushed about the choice.
"He knows now 'I don't wanna go into Wisconsin or anywhere for that matter having second thoughts because it'll be a decision that'll affect me the next three to four years,'" Darby said. "So he wanted to be absolutely sure."
A major sticking point in Latham’s recruitment is his future position. While many colleges -- and even his high school coaches -- believe he is suited best to play along the offensive line, the 6-foot-5, 291-pound Latham is adamant about playing defense in college.
Roughly 20 programs have offered Latham, but Darby said many fell off when he expressed his desire to play defense. Due to that, Darby is not sure which programs Latham is now favoring, although Wisconsin remains in the mix.
“He wants to make an immediate impact. He’s been kind of forced to taking a decision of playing offensive line but he doesn’t wanna play offensive line, and that’s been the whole fight. That struck a lot of teams out,” Darby said.
“Darius can be a multimillionaire in the next four years if he played offensive line and he knows that. We told him that. He loves defense. He’s a guy with a mentality and a thirst to play defense. That is a deciding factor for Darius, and that will finalize his decision more or less in football terms.”
That is where Latham stands as far as what he wants to see in the football side of a program, but that is not the only reason he opened up his recruitment. Off of the field, Darby said Latham is “mulling some things over.”
One program that could be in serious contention for Latham now is Indiana as the biggest off-the-field factor for Latham is his family, Darby said. Latham’s family will play a big part in his decision, noting he wants them to be able to watch him play more than once or twice a year.
“He’s got a lot of family in his corner and they want him to make the right decision, and that’s really all it is,” Darby said. “He just wants to make the best decision for his family. I think a lot of things have gone in his mind besides football.”
Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State are a few of the programs Latham has offers from.
486dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert