SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 03: DeDe Lattimore #34 of the University of South Florida Bulls intercepts a pass in the end zone against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 3, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Now let's take a look another stalwart at linebacker, USF's leading tackler from last season, and a member of the 2012 Lombardi Award watch list.
#34 LB DeDe Latimore
Redshirt Junior, 6'1" 238 lbs.
Stats in 2011: Lattimore started all 12 games last season. He led the team in tackles (94), tackles for loss (13), and sacks (seven). Had an interception in the end zone against Notre Dame that caused Brian Kelly to blow a gasket on Dayne Crist, and recovered a fumble against Cincinnati.
Current Spot on Depth Chart: DeDe is the starting weak-side linebacker and will stay there as long as he's not injured.
How Did He Come to USF? Lattimore arrived from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Georgia, where he played both running back and linebacker. His junior season in 2007 garnered him much of his attention -- he piled up 118 tackles, 18 TFLs, and 12 sacks, and also ran for 631 yards while averaging nearly six yards per carry. Lattimore chose the Bulls in January 2009 over offers from Auburn, Louisville, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and others.
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals gave Lattimore three stars and listed him as the 66th inside linebacker in the class of 2009. They also ranked him as the #71 overall prospect in Georgia. Scout listed DeDe as a strong-side linebacker and ranked him 15th overall at that position, giving him a three-star rating.
Projected Playing Time In 2012: Lattimore is USF's most physically talented linebacker and he should have another huge year, especially with the Big East shifting back towards a running league. DeDe is already getting a little bit of NFL Draft buzz, and if he puts up a Stephen Nicholas-type season with triple-digit tackles and a handful of TFLs and sacks, we may have to contemplate whether Lattimore would even come back for his senior year.