DeDe defense

Senior middle linebacker Devekeyan “DeDe” Lattimore is used to putting the pressure on opposing offenses.

Now, heading into his last season as a Bull, some would say the pressure is on him.

After being redshirted in 2009, Lattimore wasn’t seen on the sideline very often once the defense hit the field. Over the past three years, he was a starter for 12 games each season proving consistent, dependable and now, as the lone senior middle linebacker on the team, he now must be reliable as “the quarterback of the defense.”

“I feel like I’ve always had responsibility,” Lattimore said. “Just being a college athlete and always having people look at me.”

After finishing third on the team in tackles with 76 in 2012 and leading the team with 96 the prior season, Lattimore has been placed on the 2013 Bednarik award watch list by the Maxwell Football Club – an award given to the college defensive player of the year since 1995.

But it isn’t just the fans, teammates, coaches and the Maxwell Football Club

keeping a close eye on Lattimore. The defensive leader now has an extra set of eyes watching him.

On June 30, Lattimore welcomed Devekeyan “DeDe” Lattimore Jr. into the world, and became a father.

“It was unreal,” Lattimore said. “It was magic. It was like seeing another version of me. Words can’t fully explain how I felt at that moment.”

This is where most would expect the pressure to come in with a new coach, new conference, last season and now a becoming a dad.

But just like when Lattimore was a young football player being taught the basics, he said he was also taught how to be a good father.

“Fatherhood comes with its territory, but at the same time I embraced it,” Lattimore said. “My dad taught me very well. I have no worries.”

Becoming a dad was something Lattimore said he embraced and wanted, and now with the extra set of eyes on him, he’s looking to be a role model for his son — even though he said DeDe Jr. is more of a runningback than a linebacker.

But that’s not where being a role model stops.

As the senior middle linebacker for USF, Lattimore said he’s been taking steps to becoming a leader on the defense by guiding the younger players while also getting into the mind of USF defensive coordinator and former NFL coach Chuck Bresnahan.

“I’m trying to be right there with “Coach B,” Lattimore said. “Everywhere he’s going, I’m trying to be there right beside him. I’m just trying to get in his head and learn the defense. I want to pick his brain.”

Bresnahan said Lattimore is less of his shadow and more of his twin. He’s going to have to be, Bresnahan said.

“Everything I’m thinking, he’s going to be feeling,” Bresnahan said.

With a new defense complete with new formations and blitz packages, there’s sure to be a learning curve — a curve that doesn’t seem to be slowing down Lattimore too much, according to senior defensive end Luke Sager.

Like Lattimore, Sager was redshirted in 2009 and has seen action in all 12 games each season since.

He’s been right there with Lattimore, who he calls “a beast” and said fans should start looking for DeDe on the field a little bit more now.12