It wasn't a no-brainer for former Jenks, Okla., offensive tackle Brady Latham when it was time for him to choose a college, but it didn't take long for him to decide.
"You know what, I liked Arkansas from the very beginning," he said. "I had a great time down there when I visited, and I've always wanted to play close to home. Fayetteville's not that far.
Latham at a glance
POSITION Offensive lineman
HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-5, 290 pounds
HOMETOWN Jenks, Okla.
HIGH SCHOOL Jenks
AGE 18 (born Sept. 30, 2000)
NOTEWORTHY Ranked as a three-star player by Rivals and ESPN. … Received interest from Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and received scholarship offers from Missouri State, New Mexico, Utah State and several Division II programs before committing to Arkansas. … Rated as the No. 11 overall prospect in Oklahoma by 247Sports. … Ranked the No. 99 offensive tackle in the nation by ESPN. … Helped Jenks reach the Class 6A state title game.
"Plus, the people really made it feel like home. So I was very excited when I got an offer."
The excitement level was so high for Latham that it took just 14 days for him to officially commit to the Razorbacks after receiving their scholarship offer. That, in itself, was an accomplishment considering his plans to play football at a major university were murky at best a few years ago.
"When he made up his mind that he wanted to play big-time college football, he put in the hard work, time and effort," Jenks Coach Keith Riggs said. "As a freshman, he was about 6-3, 210 pounds. A lot of that was certainly just him growing as he got older, but not a lot of schools were on him.
"But he continued to work. He added the weight and got stronger to the point where he could play at a high level."
Latham still wasn't a household name in recruiting circles by the time his junior season rolled around, but all of that changed after he implemented a fierce offseason regimen that included eating more and working out relentlessly.
Playing at 245 pounds during his junior year, Latham -- who'd grown 2 inches since his freshman season -- packed on nearly 50 pounds prior to his senior year. As a result, several schools began showing interest, with New Mexico, Missouri State and Utah State eventually extending offers. But it was the University of Arkansas that made the biggest impression.
The Razorbacks liked what they saw out of Latham, who was rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and was an all-state selection for a Jenks team that went 11-2 and finished runner-up in Class 6A. Arkansas offensive line coach Dustin Fry stayed in contact with Latham throughout, and that piqued his interest even more.
"The [SEC] is an amazing conference, and Arkansas is a great school," Latham said. "There's a lot of history in that program, and I really wanted to be a part of that. It all worked out perfectly."
Arkansas is in the second year of the Chad Morris era and in somewhat of a rebuilding mode along the offensive line. The Razorbacks return just two starters up front in Ty Clary and Colton Jackson, so recruiting linemen to build depth was one of their priorities. Morris signed six offensive linemen in the 2019 class, but Riggs thinks the competition will only make Latham better.
"He's a fierce competitor," Riggs said. "The SEC is gonna be quite a challenge for any freshman coming in, but I just think Brady's going to go in and try to work his way as high as possible up the depth chart. He's a smart, mature kid, will look at it for the long term, and know what he has to do to break in the starting lineup regardless of what year it is.
"He'll hit the ground running and will compete as hard as he's ever competed. It'll be a challenge that he'll certainly embrace head-on."
Latham isn't worried about fighting for playing time early. He insisted that he's going to do the same things that afforded him the opportunity to play at a high Division I school in the first place.
"Just work hard," he said. "I'm going to do my best to help out the program in any way I can. By doing that, everything else will fall into place. Yeah, there's a little bit of nerves inside, but that's normal.
"I've worked hard every offseason to get to this point. Now, I'm excited and ready to get things going."
The seventh in a summer series featuring newcomers to the University of Arkansas football team.
Arkansas offensive lineman Brady Latham was an all-state selection last season at Oklahoma power Jenks, choosing the Razorbacks over scholarship offers from New Mexico, Missouri State and Utah State.
Sports on 07/10/2019
Print Headline: Budding lineman said UA easy pick