Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: John Lattimore, DE, North Alabama
How many schools were recruiting you out of high school?
Unfortunately, there were no schools recruiting me out of high school. I wasn’t a good student; I wasn’t focused on academics.
Where did you choose and why?
I did two years at Ventura College in California. After two very successful seasons, I was the number one recruit for East Carolina University. I didn’t fit in their system and after suffering an injury, I decided to transfer to University of North Alabama where I concluded my colligate career. I decided to transfer because I didn’t like the environment in Greenville, NC. I was starting to fall out of love with the game. It wasn’t until transferring to UNA that I felt the passion again. It was a good fit.
What was your goal for your senior year?
I focused a lot on improving my confidence as a player. While everyone saw my potential at times I didn’t see it in myself. I set out to prove to everyone that I was a great ball player. In addition to improving my confidence, I aimed to be a better person, a better man, and a better teammate.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
Yes, many scouts have contacted me. I’ve spoken with The Bills, The Seattle Seahawks, The Dallas Cowboys and The Miami Dolphins. They expressed much interest in me and recommended that I work on my hips.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
My desire to succeed is unparallel. I’m hungry for success. This is what drives my great work ethic. I am continuously working to improve my skill set. I’m perfecting my craft. I study the great players before me to mimic their game. I want to be great.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
I display great strength and I feed off the energy of my teammates. I am a great pass rusher.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
No one in particular comes to mind. I’ve played against great talent. I’m a competitor, and I compete hard every time I’m out there. I can’t think of a player in particular though.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
I think my style is similar to that of Robert Matthews. There are also similarities in our stories. He came from a small school and was a late draft pick. His circumstances didn’t stop him from grinding, mine won’t stop me either.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
I overcame all the odds. Life is the biggest obstacle I’ve overcome. There were so many hurdles I had to jump just to get where I am now. I feel like I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My parents passed when I was only 5 years old. My aunt took me in but my environment wasn’t that of which a child should experience. It was a very abusive and dysfunctional environment. As a result, I didn’t place much value on education because I was programmed to believe I would not amount to much. My senior year of high school I moved in with my uncle and took on a new perspective of life. Poor grades limited my opportunities to play colligate ball. Luckily I did have a few people in my life that saw potential in me and loved me when I didn’t love myself. I’ve experienced everything from homelessness to injuries. I don’t pity myself though. I use it as motivation. I know there’s a plan in place for me. It’s my job to grind hard for that plan to play out. My faith got me through the darkest times in my life. Regardless of what life threw at me two things remained constant, football and faith.
What system fits your style of play the best?
The 4-3 system definitely suites my style of play best.
What is your biggest strength?
My biggest strength would be my ball get off.
Confidence is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. It’s all a mindset. It’s really my biggest weakness. I’m only as good as I think I am. If my confidence isn’t there I struggle even though I possess all the skills necessary to be great. I’m constantly working on it day in and day out. Sometimes your worst enemy is living between your own two ears.
If I were a GM and gave you a second to sell yourself, what would you say?
I’m very humble. Life experiences have made me appreciate every opportunity afforded to me. I won’t blow it. I’m a hard worker who’s dedicated to being great. In addition to possessing great athleticism, I’m constantly working to be a better person.
Growing up, who was your role model?
I didn’t have the ideal upbringing. Honestly, I was robbed of a childhood. The people I was surrounded by weren’t people I aspired to be like. I didn’t have any role models growing up, just examples of what I didn’t want to be like.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
I’ve been a Carolina fan since I was 6. I don’t have a favorite player though. When watching games I like to pay close attention to the D Line and observe their techniques to better my own game.
What was the most tragic event that ever happened in your life and how did you overcome it?
I suffered a season ending injury after joining the East Carolina Pirates. It was hard to cope with because I was already battling with other personal issues. I wasn’t happy with the program at ECU and the injury made matters worse. I was beginning to question if I loved the game enough to continue to endure the emotional pain. This was perhaps the darkest time of my life. To overcome it I focused on strengthening my faith. I walk by faith not by sight. It was at this time I decided to transfer to UNA. This was the best decision I could have made. I had a pretty good season and for the first time in a while I felt the love that I once felt before for the game of football.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
I’d want to have dinner with my mom and dad. They passed when I was so young. I’d like to get to know them. I would want them to see the man I’ve become. I’d also want to have dinner with Denzel Washington. He’s my favorite actor. I love his ability to change roles and really take on the character.
With your first paycheck what would you buy?
Honestly, I don’t know what I’d get. I just know it would be something really special for my sister. She’s always been there for me. I like giving gift and seeing people happy. She’s someone who really deserves happiness. It would make me happy knowing that I could do nice things for her.