COLUMBUS — Ohio State is still hot on the recruiting trail, and Lathan Ransom is the latest to jump on board.
The Buckeyes added one of the top defensive back prospects in America on Tuesday when Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.) 4-star safety Lathan Ransom picked Ryan Day’s program over a group of finalists that included Notre Dame, Texas, LSU and Oklahoma from among his almost 30 scholarship offers.
The relationship between the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Ransom and the Buckeyes was driven by new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. Also playing a key role was Day, who handled recruiting in Arizona for the Buckeyes during his time as an assistant under Urban Meyer.
“The main reason I am picking Ohio State is because of my relationship with Coach Day and Coach Hafley,” Ransom told Lettermen Row ahead of his public announcement. “The confidence I have in Coach Hafley to develop me as a player and the family feel I got from the other players. The vibe on campus and from the fan base is unbeatable.”
Arizona’s fifth-ranked 2020 prospect visited Columbus twice since February, including a pivotal official visit during the crowded, important June 21 weekend.
Who is Lathan Ransom? Why did he become the priority for Ohio State in a crowded group of talented safeties?
Lettermen Row has all the angles on this big-hitting safety prospect and what his commitment means to Ohio State, the Big Ten and more covered right here.
What Lathan Ransom gives Ohio State on the field
If Ohio State were to build a defensive back in a laboratory, there’s a good chance he’d come out looking like Lathan Ransom.
At 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds already, expect to see Ransom start his career at Ohio State somewhere in the 210-pound range. He’ll instantly compete for playing time at safety as an enforcer-type of defensive back.
Simply put, he likes to hit people — and he hits them hard. He can also roam the secondary like the traditional safeties of old, though running in the 4.6 range in the 40-yard dash with an ability to play the ball at its highest point and create turnovers for his team. Ransom is coming off a season where he recorded six interceptions as a high school junior.
Big, fast, fluid and instinctive, Ransom is a prototypical safety who packs a punch and can roam sideline-to-sideline. That’s what he’ll bring to the Buckeyes on the field. Nicknames “The Bandit,” that’s an appropriate descriptor for the way he patrols the field on defense, robbing offenses of big plays and even the football itself.
What Lathan Ransom means to Ohio State 2020 recruiting class
The Ohio State coaches offered Lathan Ransom in January, and he instantly became a top target for Day and Hafley. A month later, he and his father were in Columbus checking out the program. Just like that, the Buckeyes were a real contender in the game for a top-four safety from Arizona.
The reach and impact of the Ohio State brand haven’t faded since Urban Meyer’s retirement. The recruitment and now the commitment of Ransom further exemplifies that. Ryan Day went head-to-head with Texas and Notre Dame in these past few weeks for Ransom and came out on top yet again — which is becoming a regular occurrence.
Ransom becomes the third defensive back to verbally pledge to the Buckeyes in this cycle, joining 4-star cornerbacks Lejond Cavazos and Clark Phillips. Muskegon (Mich.) 3-star athlete Cameron Martinez could also end up playing in the secondary, but with Ransom in the mix, Ohio State will turn its focus to Kourt Williams. The California 4-star makes his college decision soon as well, and then Ryan Day’s coaching staff will have some real work ahead of them when it comes to sorting out scholarship numbers for the rest of the class.
The 21st commitment in the 2020 group, Ransom’s addition means the Buckeyes have passed LSU and Alabama and now have the country’s second-ranked class. Ransom is the country’s 76th-ranked overall prospect in the Class of 2020 and the second player ranked inside of Arizona’s top-five to pick the Buckeyes, joining quarterback Jack Miller.
Ohio State is still hoping to add to that list: 5-star tailback (and Ransom’s teammate) Bijan Robinson will make his commitment somewhere on Aug. 2.
What makes Lathan Ransom stand out
Long-time Salpointe Catholic coach Dennis Bene pulled no punches when praising Ransom to Lettermen Row.
He wasn’t just talking about his star defender on the field, though he certainly excels between the lines.
“He is so dynamic as a player — he can do anything — but most important is that he brings an unparalleled work ethic and enthusiasm to practice and workouts,” Bene told Lettermen Row. “He has matured and worked to become an elite prep player and he wants to be great.
“Many kids do, but he will outwork you to beat you. He has become fearless because of the confidence he has, and that’s confidence gained through a total commitment of the grind.”
Ransom’s recruiting star rose quickly in this past year. Like a lot of kids in that situation, Ransom has changed some — but it’s all been positive.
“He changed for the better,” Bene said. “His mindset was about being the best in Arizona, but I told him he could be the best in America. He took that and ran with it. His whole focus changed.
“He’s the same person, but he just grew leaps and bounds as an athlete. That’s very, very rare in my experience. He’s just an exceptional young man.”