Ken Lathan didn’t play on a college football team. He got something from his college experience that was even better. He got to work directly with a Hall of Fame head coach.
That time spent with Lou Holtz at the University of South Carolina should serve him in good stead as he takes over the head coaching position at Carrboro High School.
“I learned a lot from him and from other members of the coaching staff there in Columbia,” Lathan said.
Lathan noted that his work as an undergraduate staffer at South Carolina brought him into regular contact with the likes of Holtz, defensive coordinator Charles Strong (now head coach at Texas), running backs coach Buddy Pough (now head coach at S.C. State), and former ESPN commentator Skip Holtz (now head coach at La. Tech).
“There have been a lot of people, a lot of great coaches, from here in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia who have influenced me,” Lathan said.
It was Pough who gave Lathan his first interest in coaching. After playing wide receiver at Winnsboro’s Fairfield Central High School in South Carolina, Lathan matriculated in 1999 at Columbia, where Pough found a paid student assistant job for Lathan and a couple of his classmates.
With his B.A. in Business Administration at South Carolina, Lathan headed to graduate school at South Carolina State, where Pough became head coach in 2002. Pough again help Lathan find a spot in football, this time as a volunteer coach at nearby Bethune Bowman High School in Orangeburg.
After Lathan received his for a master’s degree in counseling in 2004 at S.C. State, headed to Atlanta as he began a series of teaching and assistant coaching jobs, usually working with wide receivers: at Mt. Zion High in Jonesboro, Ga.; three seasons at Milburn (Ga.) Parkview; back to his alma mater at Fairfield Central; and eventually to Raleigh when his wife, Bolu Lathan, got an attractive offer in the medical field.
Lathan has spent the last two seasons at Raleigh Millbrook, where he worked as a position coach under Clarence Inscore. Millbrook’s varsity went 20-7 over 2014 and 2015, reaching the 4A playoffs both years, while the JV program was 8-1 in both of its last two seasons.
“Working with Clarence Inscore, I learned a lot about the ins and outs of high school football,” Lathan said. “We spent a lot of time talking about not just football, but also the life lessons it teaches. And we talked a lot about coaching, how to coach, and even things like when was the right time to apply as a head coach.”
Lathan was named officially as new football head coach at Carrboro by the Jaguars’ athletics director, April Ross, on Friday.
“Coach Lathan brings enthusiasm and experience to Carrboro High School,” Ross wrote in an email. “A 14-year veteran coach who has worked under such coaching greats as Lou Holtz at South Carolina, Coach Lathan will bring an exciting brand of football to the Carrboro community.”
Lathan takes over a program that went 0-11 last year. But he is convinced he can “hit the ground running” and make an immediate impact on the team.
“We definitely can be successful,” Lathan said. “First and foremost, I want to rejuvenate the sense of excitement Carrboro has had about football in the past.
“Carrboro did not have a lot of success last year, but it’s been very successful in the past,” he said, citing the 2012 Jaguars’ undefeated regular season and appearance in the 2A state championship game. “We have a strong community that is very passionate about their school.
“This situation is a very good one for a guy like me. My passion for the game can be contagious. Hopefully, I can spread that love of the game around the school and get everyone involved.”