The Latu brothers make no bones about it. They love football. They love hitting…..and they hate Fullbacks. Viliami “Ami” Latu, the 6’2 230lb self-described “attack” Linebacker, controls the center of the Rancho Cucamunga (Ca.) Defense from his MLB spot. Alani “AJ” Latu, the “read and react” Outside Linebacker, brings speed and quickness from the edge. In tandem, the brothers, alongside 4-star DB’s Chris Hawkins and Tahaan Goodman, led the RCHS squad to a (11-2) record and an appearance in the 2011-12 Southern Section Semi-finals. Primed for breakout senior seasons, many a Fullback should plan for a long day at the office (and stock plenty of aspirin) anytime RCHS and the Latu brothers come calling.
Citing mutual disdain for all things Fullback, and carrying identical 3-star ratings via Rivals, it should come as no surprise the Latu’s plan to take their collective game to the collegiate level. These two come as a pair and have made the point clear to any and all prospective recruiters. As much as they have in common and as close as they are and prefer to remain, there are distinct difference in their on and off the field approach. As mentioned, Ami is the aggressive/attack-style ‘backer and has a football-focused outlook when asked about future ambition(s). Citing a short-term goal of establishing himself as the “best LB in the NCAA” and a long-term goal of NFL success, Ami plans to go as far as football will take him. For the ’11-’12 season Ami was named Baseline League Defensive MVP, 1st Team All-Inland Valley, as well as 1st Team All-State and All-CIF. Although equally driven by the game and overtly capable of laying out ball carriers and QB’s alike, AJ is much quicker to speak to life outside the game. When asked to fast forward 4 years and lists his collegiate accomplishments, AJ listed just one, securing “his Bachelors” degree. Also looking to “go as far as (his) football career will take me (him)”, he is also quick to acknowledge a desire to make use of a degree and pursue a career in Counseling, possibly at the High school level. AJ also turned in an impressive ’11-’12 campaign in garnering 1st Team All-Baseline, All CIF, and 3rd Team All-Inland Valley accolades.
Listing early favorites as Colorado, San Diego State, and UCLA, and holding offers from Hawaii, New Mexico State, and Washington State, the Latu’s have garnered the interest of most West Coast D1 Head Coaches and staffs. There’s been some recent talk regarding the possibility of AJ and Ami attending separate schools, but that may have been more posturing than anything, at least based on their response to my question on that point. “No, we never want to split. We really want to play together and end up enjoying the experience together. The only exception would be if UCLA offers one and USC offers the other lol.” Furthering the package likelihood, Ami added “We plan to visit a lot of schools this summer. But especially Arizona St, UCLA, Oregon , Arizona , Colorado , and maybe San Diego St again”. My key takeaway from the last statement is a single word, “we”. There’s a clear bond between the two off the field, and a unique ability to work in tandem on it. I see no reason why the brothers, or Defensive Coordinators, would be in any hurry to break that up. Coach Rocky Long and the SDSU Aztecs have been listed as early favorites, but don’t sleep on the UCLA/USC reference. If either of the LA area powers come calling the Latu brothers will most certainly hear them out.
Assuming each continues recent impressive performances in skill camps and 7-on-7 settings it’s not a stretch to project both Latu’s among the ’12-’12 All-State selections. At 230lbs Ami is currently more physically suited for D1 football, but each will need to get north of 240 to survive the increased physicality of the next level. Ami cites a focus on improving “speed and hand techniques and change in direction” and AJ lists “change of direction and power moves” as his areas in need of refining. Each brother is easy to locate on film and shows little difficulty in shedding blocks. They both invite, and frankly thrive on, contact and display solid technique in tackling thru ball-carriers. Given the off-season scouting/recruiting attention they have received a strong Senior showing should propel each to a 4-star rating and Top 10 positional rankings (currently, Ami #16 MLB, AJ #25 OLB). Refined pass coverage technique, added strength, and increased comfort in reading/diagnosing offensive formations and sets should place the Latu’s squarely on the radar of most, if not all, West Coast D1 programs, and may lead to interest from Big 10, Big 12, and SEC members. High school Fullbacks everywhere, you’ve been warned. The Latu brothers are locked and loaded, and AJ and Ami rarely miss their mark.