When Frank Laterza ’12 played football at Saint Viator, he did it all: he was a receiver on offense and played safety on defense, as well as returning kicks and punts. He even played quarterback, coming into replace the injured starter, Cameron Korab ’12.
Is it any wonder that he grew even better in college? As a standout defensive back at St. Norbert College, he led the Green Knights this season with six interceptions, with 121 return yards and 23 tackles, in a season when St. Norbert’s defense allowed just 155.5 yards passing per game and the unit finished with 21 interceptions, its most since 2006.
Officials at St. Norbert’s announced this week that Laterza is one of 63 small-college defensive players who are a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award. This award is presented to the nation’s top small college defensive player, representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.
— Midwest Conference (@MWCSports) December 18, 2015
Latzera was named Midwest Conference Defensive Skill Player of the Year following a year where he led the Green Knights to a 10-1 overall record and an unbeaten 10-win regular season. St. Norbert captured the Midwest Conference championship, its 16th since 1985, with a 16-7 win over Monmouth College in the league’s title game on Nov. 14.
The award is sponsored by the Little Rock Touchdown Club and the top vote getter from each division will also be announced. Members of the selection committee included former college and pro-football greats.
Cliff Harris himself went from being an overlooked high school player from tiny Des Arc, AR, who played football at the NAIA-level Ouachita Baptist University, to appearing in five Super Bowls and six Pro Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys
The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 24.