With Tennessee losing two safeties to graduation this past season and with them set to lose Nigel Warrior after the 2019 season, the Vols will be looking to add some future play-makers to that position in the 2020 recruiting cycle. And UT’s coaches recently offered one of the fastest-rising names at that position.
Lathan Ransom is a four-star safety who plays for Salpointe Catholic in Tucson, Arizona. Tennessee extended an offer to him earlier this month, and that offer marked the 20th overall offer and fifth SEC offer Ransom has hauled in. After the Vols offered him, Ohio State joined in and gave him his 21st scholarship option in the 2020 cycle.
Ransom did an interview with me not long after his Tennessee offer, and he was excited about picking up another offer from an SEC school.
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“I was very excited,” Ransom said of the Tennessee offer. “It’s in the SEC, and I really enjoy watching SEC football. I think it’s the best football in the nation. It was just a blessing.”
According to Ransom, Arizona native Terry Fair was the coach who contacted him from UT’s staff. Fair coaches cornerbacks for the Vols and was an All-SEC performer as a defensive back for Tennessee from 1994-97. Having that Arizona connection on Tennessee’s staff makes UT stand out a little more than other schools outside of the Arizona area.
As a junior, Ransom did a little bit of everything for Salpointe Catholic. He played in the defensive backfield, caught passes on offense, and returned punts and kicks. And he’s excelled at all three phases of the game.
Ransom totaled 82 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, six interceptions, eight passes defended, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble on defense last season according to MaxPreps. On offense, Ransom caught 27 passes for 625 yards and six scores. He also returned both a punt and an interception for a touchdown last season. Over the last two seasons, he has four special teams touchdowns and has picked off 11 passes.
Though he can play multiple positions and has performed well all across the field, Ransom’s love is on the defensive side of the ball.
“Going into college, I definitely want to play on the defensive side,” Ransom stated. “If I have to play special teams, I’m all for special teams. Anyway that I can play on the field, that’s where I want to play.
“I’ve always loved playing defense, making big hits and getting interceptions. On defense, you always have a chance to make a play on the ball, and I just fell in love with that aspect of the game.”
Ransom said he played defense back in his Pop Warner football days, but he actually started out on offense once he got older. But he moved to defense, and that’s where he feels more natural.
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound safety isn’t the only prospect from Salpointe Catholic who Tennessee is targeting, though.
Ransom is teammates with one of the top running backs in the 2020 class in Bijan Robinson. The 6-foot, 200-pound Robinson picked up an offer from the Vols shortly before Ransom did, and Ransom said he and Robinson could end up making some trips together. But that’s yet to be decided right now.
“Bijan’s a baller. He’s always pushing me to be the best and up to my ability,” Ransom said of his teammate. “It’s a blessing to have him on my team. I couldn’t praise him higher.”
Right now, Ransom hasn’t figured out where all he’ll go visit in the spring and summer, but distance won’t be a factor for him. Not only has he visited in-state schools like Arizona and Arizona State, but he’s traveled westward to Cal and as far east as Michigan and Indiana.
Distance won’t factor in to where Ransom visits, and it won’t factor in to where he goes to college, either.
“I want to play at the place that’s going to push me to be the best no matter where it is,” Ransom stated. “That’s what I want.”