The defending national champs are one of the programs standing out to four-star lineman J.C. Latham early in his recruiting process.
The Clemson Insider traveled to IMG Academy for the third straight year as part of our Tour of Champions and caught up with the top class of 2021 prospect there.
Latham named the Tigers as one of the schools he is high on heading into his junior year.
“Clemson’s definitely up there, along with Bama, Wisconsin and Michigan,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about the other schools like that. Maybe a Florida school, I might want to stay down here, but I haven’t really thought about it like that too much.”
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Latham plays on both sides of the trenches as an offensive tackle and a defensive lineman.
Last season as a sophomore, Latham logged 95 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries on defense, but he feels even more comfortable on the offensive side of the ball.
“Left tackle to me, I’m a lot more better at,” he said. “It’s more natural to me. I didn’t know I’d be as good as what I thought I’d be. When it comes to left tackle I’m good because I know what the defense is going to do with the knowledge of playing (defensive end) already. So I know how to counter it, and I’m already a natural left tackle.”
Latham transferred to IMG Academy after his sophomore season at Catholic Memorial High School (Wis.), so he has two full seasons ahead at IMG and believes the first-class coaches and facilities there will help prepare him for the next level.
It’s not a bad place to be off the field, either, surrounded by water, beaches and sunny weather.
“It’s amazing,” Latham said. “You get to play against the best competition day in and day out and you get to train with them on your own time, too. If you ever have any free time, you’re really on vacation with a place like this.”
Lining up against top talent like Clemson commitment Demonte Capehart in practice every day at IMG is making Latham a better player as well.
“It helps me get better a lot,” he said. “They’ve got me cross-training at left tackle and defensive tackle, so I get to work on both sides of the ball. So, I get to learn new things every single day. Get to work with guys like Demonte and then guys like (Florida State OL commit) Alex Atcavage.”
The Tigers have not yet pulled the trigger on an offer to Latham but are showing a lot of interest and want to get him back on campus. He previously visited Clemson for the spring game in April.
“That was amazing,” he said of the visit. “No other place I’ve visited comes close to that type of facility, type of stadium. The players were so locked into it, the fans were locked in. It was just an amazing environment.”
Latham is a top-100 national prospect in the 2021 class per both ESPN (No. 72 overall) and 247Sports (No. 76). He isn’t sure if IMG’s schedule will allow him to visit Clemson during the season but says he definitely plans to return in the offseason.
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