Matt LaTorre hadn’t thought about playing football on the collegiate level a few months ago. But the Belleville High senior learned a great deal about the game under new head coach Jermain Johnson last fall, and now, he’s ready to continue playing sprint football, at Caldwell University, beginning this autumn.
LaTorre helped the Bucs to respectability in 2018, guiding the team to a 4-5 record as the starting quarterback.
“I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life,” said LaTorre, the son of Judith Valdez and the late Alfredo LaTorre. “This past season was very special for me. I got a chance to play for coach Johnson, as well as coach (Eric) Magrini (Belleville’s offensive coordinator). They both taught me a lot, and now I feel like I can play at the next level.”
Matt LaTorre is joined by his mother, Judith Valdez and head coach Jermain Johnson. (Click on photo for larger image)
Caldwell University introduced sprint football two years ago to its list of athletic programs. The Cougars are coached by former Nutley High head coach Jim Kelly. Sprint football requires a player weigh 178 pounds, or less. The game is fast-paced and has a number of prestigious schools which participate, including the United States Military Academy, at West Point, the Naval Academy, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell.
Johnson feels the opportunity is perfect for LaTorre.
“Matt came a long way in making reads and working with Eric Magrini on technique” said Johnson. “I wish I had the chance to coach him more than a year. Matt is a hard-working kid and I think he’ll really thrive in playing sprint football. He’s going to play against some really good teams, that’s for sure.”
LaTorre plans to major in Health Science and Physical Therapy, with the hope of being a physical therapist after a six-year program, which would result in a PhD.
“Caldwell has a very good program in my major,” said LaTorre. “It all worked out well. I had the chance to meet coach Kelly. He seems like a good guy. I’m looking forward to learning from him over the next four years.”
LaTorre could also see time on defense, perhaps at corner back, since he played some defense in high school.
“I’ll be working in the gym, doing cardio and getting stronger,” said LaTorre. “Getting ready for the fall means putting the work in now. I’m excited about the opportunity.”