Sept. 21, 2009

By Amy Farnum
NCAA.com

Bloomsburg University quarterback Dan Latorre is one of the best players in the Huskies’ history, but his football accolades are just half the story for this outstanding student-athlete, who almost gave up the sport entirely when he first got to college.

Latorre was head coach Danny Hale’s top recruit in 2005 after a highly-successful high school career just 30 minutes down the road from Bloomsburg at Southern Columbia H.S. in Elysburg, Pa.  Hale intended on redshirting Latorre that season as he groomed him for the starting quarterback position, but the freshman decided he needed a break from football after the first day of practice.

“There was so much going on my senior year of high school,” said Latorre.  “I had three friends that died accidentally, and I didn’t really have a summer because I was up at school throwing three days a week.  It was tough to relax and decompress for a little bit.  August came rolling around and I wasn’t really focused on football.”

Latorre talked with Hale and told him it was not his time, but asked the coach to leave the door open for him in case he decided to play again.
 
“He was pretty definitive that was what he wanted to do,” said Hale.  “After talking to people, I realized that he had been through a lot.  He experienced high success at a small school district here in town and there were a lot of expectations.”

Eventually, as the season progressed and Latorre became acclimated to college life, he started to get an itch to play the game once again.  Latorre returned to the program in January 2006, and knew he would not only have to earn the starting QB job, but also the respect of his teammates.

“I’m sure it was tough behind-the-scenes with the other players,” said Hale.  “He was in competition through spring and through the preseason and it wasn’t until about a week before our first game that I decided to give him the nod for the starting role.  That first game was (returning Div. I FCS champion) James Madison and he completed about 80 percent of his passes and he hasn’t looked back since.

“You could tell right away he was a leader.  He had a great deal of confidence and poise for a freshman starting against James Madison in a packed house.”

Latorre went on to be named the 2006 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Rookie of the Year after setting a single-season school record in passing yardage.  Last year, he was named first team All-PSAC East, and entered 2009 as the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback and is third on the program’s list in both passing yards and touchdowns. 

It is not only the football field where Latorre strives for success.  In August, he finished three undergraduate degrees in business management, French and finance, and is now taking graduate classes towards his Master’s of Business Administration.  Interested in a career in international business, Latorre kept adding majors as his academic career continued.

“I was taking an average of 18 credits a semester over the last year,” said Latorre.  It’s something I wouldn’t really advise, but I wanted to get it done.  Between meetings, and going to class all day and practice and going to the library to study – and doing it five days a week – it was a rough schedule.  Besides football and classes, I was involved with organizations like the French Club, the Society of Advanced Management and the Finance Management Association.” 

Hale was very supportive of Latorre’s huge academic undertaking, and commends his time management skills.

“It certainly allows me to tell anyone they can success,” said Hale.  “I don’t want to hear the excuse that I can’t do both – that you can’t be a student and play ball at a high level.”

As Latorre concludes his football career, he has the No. 4 Huskies off to a 4-0 start with an eye on another PSAC East championship and NCAA playoff berth, but he is also concentrating on the next chapter in his life while juggling an internship and graduate assistantship. 

Latorre is applying to some top graduate schools, and looking for a job, and knows the competition will be tough in both, but is hoping his leadership experience on the football field gives him a slight advantage.  Undoubtedly, it will give him the edge when the Huskies look to remain undefeated as they host C.W. Post on Sept. 26.