Cody Latimer had a look in his eye, an unusual energy, as he and his Indiana teammates prepped in the locker room for their game against Bowling Green on Saturday.
He was actually smiling around, fellow wideout Shane Wynn said. He usually doesn’t talk, but he was smiling around, playing around in the locker room and things like that.
Not the reaction you’d expect, given the circumstances.
Latimer, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior, was named one of the team captains before the 42-10 rout of the Falcons because his dad, Colby, had played for Bowling Green.
He died of colon cancer in April 2005, when Latimer was 12.
I got so down, so depressed, Latimer, a Dayton native, told the Dayton Daily News in 2010. I felt all alone, ... like I’d lost everything in the world.
Latimer went out Saturday after just five catches in his first two games and reeled in six for 137 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Latimer, who led the team in receiving yards in 2012, got a bit of help from his teammates in that regard.
I could have gone either side, really, for the touchdown, sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld said of his throw to Latimer in the end zone. I just kind of wanted to feed Cody this time. I know this was a special game for him.
All of his teammates did.
IU coach Kevin Wilson made a point of talking to the team about the importance of this game for Latimer.
At the end of the day, Cody was really balling, senior running back Stephen Houston said.
It was more of Cody pushing us. He scored a touchdown – first one down there on kickoff.
He was chattering, too, a rare sight in the locker room and even on the field. Latimer is a quiet guy. He lets his play talk.
On Saturday, he let himself go and put up a season high in receiving yards for himself and the receiving corps.
His teammates, all wearing 98 on their gloves – Colby Latimer’s number as a linebacker for the Falcons in the mid-1980s – were thrilled.
Today, we just said, Hey, let’s feed the beast.’ Cody’s our beast, and we fed him, senior wideout Kofi Hughes said after the win. You really can’t contain him. You really can’t hold him back.
We said just go out there and ball for your dad, you know? And beat his team, just like he would probably want you to now. And that’s what he did. He had a great game.
Latimer didn’t know much about his dad. While Colby was a part of Latimer’s life, Colby was separated from Cody’s mom, Tonya Dunson.
Still, Dad was there, and he remained a motivational force for Latimer.
Even on Saturday.
He always wanted me to do my best, Latimer said of his father.
When I was a kid he always wanted me to play football, that was his dream. Kid, you’re going to play football.’
So Latimer, when the time came, spurned his first love – basketball – and went to college to play the sport his dad had.
It was the right choice. Saturday, Latimer sent his dad a thank you in a pregame prayer.
It was kind of special, Latimer said. I just talked to him before the game and said, Be with me. Stay with me, and I’m going to go out here and play my best.’