Dec. 4, 2004
Columbia, S.C. –
John Latina, who has developed all-star and NFL-caliber offensive linemen throughout his 24-year college coaching career, has been named assistant football coach at the University of South Carolina. Latina comes to USC from the University of Mississippi, where he served as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Latina will coach Carolina’s offensive line.
Latina spent six seasons at Ole Miss and coordinated the Rebels’ highly-successful offense his last five years there. The 2003 Ole Miss offense was perhaps the most prolific in school history, as the Rebels set school records for points scored (442) and total offense (5,631). Ole Miss led the Southeastern Conference that season in passing offense (286.0), scoring (34.0) and total offense (433.2). Quarterback Eli Manning was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. In addition, receiver Chris Collins and offensive guard Doug Buckles earned first-team All-SEC honors. Three other Ole Miss players from that squad signed NFL contracts. There were two seasons during his stay at Ole Miss that the Rebel offensive line allowed the fewest quarterback sacks in the SEC.
Latina helped groom some of the best offensive linemen to ever play at Ole Miss. Center Ben Claxton was All-SEC and was a fifth-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos in 2003. He also developed tackle Terrence Metcalf into an All-America selection, who was chosen the SEC’s Most Valuable Offensive Lineman in 2001 and was picked in the third round of the 2002 NFL draft.
Latina’s first season at Ole Miss saw three Rebels make All-SEC, including All-America accolades for tackle Todd Wade and Metcalf, while Claxton was chosen Freshman All-America. During his tenure at Ole Miss, Latina coached 10 offensive linemen who went on to sign NFL contracts.
“We’re excited about having John Latina join the Gamecock staff as our offensive line coach,” said USC head coach Steve Spurrier. “John is a proven and quality coach. He has a tremendous track record of developing outstanding offensive linemen who go on to play in the NFL.”
Prior to joining the Ole Miss staff in December of 1998, Latina was an assistant coach at Clemson for five years, working with the offensive line and serving as the running game coach. During his time with the Tigers, Latina coached six All-Atlantic Coast Conference offensive linemen and helped Clemson rank among the top two in the ACC in rushing from 1995-97.
A 1979 graduate of Virginia Tech, Latina lettered four years as an offensive lineman for the Hokies. He joined the Virginia Tech coaching staff and helped lead the Hokies to the 1981 Peach Bowl. After spending one season (1982) as an assistant at Pittsburgh, Latina became the offensive line coach at Temple (1983-88). His offensive line blocked for first team All-America tailback Paul Palmer, who led the nation in rushing in 1986. Also, while at Temple, Latina coached three players who were drafted by the NFL and four others who signed free agent contracts.
Latina joined the Kansas State staff in 1989 as the offensive line coach and running game coordinator. He spent five seasons with the Wildcats, where he coached two future NFL draft picks and five others who inked free agent contracts.
“South Carolina presents a great opportunity and I’m really excited about joining Coach Spurrier’s staff,” said Latina. “Coach Spurrier is one of those coaches that you always dream about having the chance to work for, and for me, that dream has come true.”
Former Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe says that South Carolina is gaining an outstanding football coach.
“I’m happy for John and his family,” said Coach Cutcliffe. “Coach Spurrier has hired an outstanding coach and an outstanding person.”
Latina is married to the former Michele Veltre and they have two sons: John and Michael.