REFORM — Jah-Marien Latham knows quite a bit about Nick Saban and the University of Alabama.
Part of that is because he grew up just a few miles down the road from the campus. But the Pickens County defensive lineman has a former Crimson Tide player as a head coach and mentor. Latham could pick his brain about life as an Alabama football player whenever he wanted.
On Wednesday, Latham, 6-foo-3, 280 pounds, fulfilled a lifelong dream of being a member of the Crimson Tide, signing his letter of intent be part of the 2020 class in front of a packed auditorium at Pickens County High School. Tornadoes coach Michael Williams, sporting his Alabama letterman jacket, was there to introduce Latham and watch him make it official.
“With him being my coach and with him playing at Alabama we end up talking a lot about the times he had over there and all the achievements that he had and everything that he’s done great in life,” Latham said. “To have him as a head coach has really helped me out a lot.”
Latham is a four-star signee who had 27 tackles for a loss to go with eight sacks this season. He helped lead the Tornadoes to the Class 1A semifinals.
He’s ranked 10th top prospect in the state by 247 Sports Composite and the 20th best defensive tackle in the nation.
Latham chose Alabama over Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Wednesday was a day Latham’s been dreaming of for a long time, a day he thought wouldn’t happen a few years ago.
“When I took over the job he was worried about not having any offers and trying to understand why he wasn’t getting offers,” Williams said. “I told him ‘keep playing hard and they will see. You have enough talent that they will find you.’ He continued to play hard and finally got a couple of offers. Once that happened the offers started piling up. It’s good to see good things happen to good kids. Jah-Merien is one of the best kids you will ever meet. He’s not one to go around getting in trouble or be a headache in class. None of that.”
Latham said it was tough during that period of not getting offers during his early days at Pickens County.
“I used to look on Twitter and watch a lot of guys and they were highly recruited in ninth or 10th grade and I was like, ‘why couldn’t that be me?’ But with the coaches I’ve got, they just told me to stay patient and stay humble and my time will come.
“I kind of made it hard on myself when doing drills and stuff just making sure I was putting in the extra work. I was doing everything right so I could make this dream come true. All praise the man up high, he’s been blessing me and I just really appreciate everything He is doing for me right now.”
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2