Indiana's Cody Latimer has developed into one of the Big Ten's top receiving threats -- not bad for a guy who's only been playing football for a few years. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from Dayton, Ohio, ranks fourth in the league with 44 catches for 695 receiving yards and has posted three 100-yard games this season. I recently caught up with Latimer for this week's Friday Q&A:
Brian Bennett: How would you say your season has gone so far?
Cody Latimer: I think it's going OK. It could be better. I've left a lot of plays out there. But it's going well. I think I'm doing a good job on special teams also, and I'm just trying to do the best I can for our team.
BB: You were quiet the first couple of games and then started to put up big numbers. Did something start to click for you?
CL: Not really. Just trusting the play-calling, and it opened up for me. The quarterbacks did a good job of looking my way, and I just made some plays.
BB: You guys lost a tough one to Minnesota last week, where you had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final seconds. How have you moved past that one?
CL: You've just got to let go of the past. It's a game we let go, and we can't get it back, so we've just got to go into these next games and move forward, attack each day in practice and come to play with a chip on our shoulder. We've got to try to win out.
BB: You've been in some close games this season that you haven't been able to pull out. How frustrating is that?
CL: It's frustrating with all these games we've had in our hands that we've let slip away. But we know that we're there. It builds confidence. We know that we can do this. We've just got to work on finishing. It's about starting fast and finishing strong.
BB: Getting to a bowl game was a big goal for you guys this year. Now at 3-5, you've got your backs against the wall a little bit. What's your attitude toward the rest of the season now?
CL: We've just got to attack every day, every game. We've got to trust our coaches and our playcalling and make the best of what we can. We know there are tough games ahead. We've just got to come out here and be ready to fight.
BB: You mention playing with a chip. There are a lot of doubters out there now. Does proving people wrong play into your motivation at all?
CL: Of course, but it's not really about proving people wrong. We know everybody is not in it for us. We're all we've got. We're doing it for ourselves and we know we can do it. We're out here fighting for each other every day proving it to each other. People will believe it when they see it. We've just got to build trust. We know what we've got to do. We've just going to keep pushing each other.
CL: It's been an easy adjustment. We've been with these quarterbacks now for two or three years, so we've got a good connection with them. We throw the ball with them every day, go through winter conditioning and extra summer workouts and watch a lot of film together. We just have a lot of trust in all three of our quarterbacks. With Nate and Tre, whoever comes in, we can adjust to it easily. They just put the ball in the air, and we try to go get it.
BB: Do you have a favorite catch so far this season?
CL: I had two against Penn State that were pretty good, sideline catches. The best I've seen this year has been [teammate] Kofi Hughes [against Michigan]. I had a pretty good one against Michigan, too. I got flipped on my head, but I caught the ball.
BB: Some of your games this year have been pretty wild, with all kinds of points and records. What's it like playing in those games? Do you feel pressure to score every time?
CL: We know that our offense is not a great offense but a good offense, and it can be way better. We know we can put up numbers, and we know our defense going to make stops at times. We also know that at times, their offense is going to score. We're just trying to outscore opponents and put up over 50 a game. We know our offense is capable of it, so we've got to come out and do it. We have an offense that's built to score points, so we've got to score points.
BB: You face an Illinois team this week that's at least as hungry for a win as you guys. What type of game do you expect?
CL: It's always scratch and claw. We played against them last year, and it's always competitive. They're sitting around with the same record as us, so we're all just fighting to get to a bowl game and get another win.
BB: How did you wind up at Indiana?
CL: I was recruited by the previous coaching staff, with coach [Bill] Lynch. I loved how they were going to give me a chance, and I knew it was a great offense. Then when they got let go, Coach [Kevin] Wilson spoke to me and kept in touch with me. It was very motivating to me when he told me about the offense and how it was going to put up numbers. That's what a receiver wants to do, come catch the ball and go make plays. I was very confident in the offense and trusted in it, so I stuck with my first choice.
BB: Other schools recruited you at different positions?
CL: Yeah, I was looked at as a linebacker and safety. I played everywhere in my high school. Those were tough years. I went to a small school. At one point, we had like 14 people on the team, so I never got off the field. I went from offense to defense, and I was even the punter at one time. It was crazy. But it helps you adjust to college. Conditioning wise, you never get off the field, and it forces you to be and make plays.
BB: And you were a basketball guy, right?
CL: Yeah, we won state in high school. Adreian Payne, who plays for Michigan State now, was my teammate. That was my first love. I didn't start playing football until my junior year in high school. It's crazy how it worked out. But basketball helped me get more athletic, by jumping around to make plays. You've got to have strong hands and be more physical when attacking the basket. That helped me transition to football.
BB: You had some small-school scholarship offers in basketball. What was the deciding factor to go with football?
CL: I thought I'd have a better chance in football. As a receiver, they're going to throw the ball, so I guess can go and make some plays. And then my mom. She told me football was the way to go. Mama knows best, so I went out here and now I'm just playing for my family.