Salpointe safety Lathan Ransom could be committing sooner than teammate, running back Bijan Robinson Richard Obert, azcentral sports
High school football recruiting pioneer Tom Lemming was at Scottsdale Saguaro on Tuesday to look at Arizona’s top football prospects.
The Lemming Report, an annual national magazine, will feature Arizona players on the cover in its 40th year of evaluating every state’s top football prospects.
That’s how big Arizona has gotten, especially the 2020 class which is absolutely loaded.
Lemming, from Chicago, who had a cameo role in the movie “The Blind Side,” drives 50,000 miles between December and June to get an up-close look at who might be featured in his magazine.
He invited The Republic to come out Tuesday and we caught up with some of the state’s top prospects to see where they’re at in their recruiting stages:2020 class
Tucson Salpointe Catholic’s dynamic duo of running back Bijan Robinson and safety/receiver Lathan Ransom stopped by. They both have double-digit Power 5 offers. Robinson, who has had back-to-back 2,000-plus yards rushing seasons, said he is saving his college reveal for the Under Armour All-American Game in Florida next January.
The 247Sports Composite crystal ball has UCLA in the lead at 67 percent and Ohio State at 33 percent.
“I’ve narrowed it down a lot,” Robinson, a 247Sports Composite 5-star, said about the schools without saying which schools are in among his favorites. “After the visits, I’ll be able to figure it out.”
— Ransom, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, a 4 star by 247Sports, has 28 Power 5 football offers. Among those are Oklahoma, Stanford, Notre Dame, LSU, Ohio State and Texas.
Salpointe safety Lathan Ransom. (Photo: Richard Obert / The Republic)
“I’m planning to have my list cut in half in the next couple of days and hope to have a top five in July,” Ransom said. “I haven’t really decided when I’m going to commit yet. I’ve thought about before the season. I thought about it during the season. But it’s all been great. I’m loving the attention, competing in 7-on-7s, in camps, and trying to get better.”
— Gilbert quarterback Will Plummer’s recruiting was starting to take off after his break-through junior season when he put up huge numbers in coach Derek Zellner’s “Air Raid” offense. But that slowed after he committed to Arizona.
“The recruiting process was hectic,” Plummer said. “When UA rolled around, I built a relationship with Coach (Noel) Mazzone and Coach (Kevin) Sumlin. I got to know them really well, what the program is about. I got to go down there and talk to them. From there, I know that’s where I wanted to go to school. Hopefully, I can help build the class a little bit, see if I can get some kids down there who are in-state.”
Plummer has special talents — and so too does his brother Jack, who is now at Purdue. Gilbert has struggled, but Plummer never thought of leaving for a “dynasty” school.
“I live a quarter of a mile from the school,” he said. “Why would I drive out of the way to go somewhere else? Coach Zellner there, we run an Air-Raid offense. It’s a quarterback’s dream to throw the ball 40 times a game. I love it at Gilbert. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
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— Chandler linebacker Tate Romney said he is “definitely taking a mission, two years for my church.” But that hasn’t stopped the offers from coming in. He is up to 11 college offers, which include BYU, where older brother Gunner Romney plays wide receiver and decided not to take the two-year mission route out of Chandler.
“I’m taking some visits in April and May,” Tate said. “I’ll probably make a decision this summer. If I can’t choose, it will be after the season.
“Some colleges like to hold it and just recruit me out of the class of ’22. Some schools drop it. I’m a little big surprised (by the heavy interest).”
— Chandler safety/wide receiver Gunner Maldonado, who had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered last season, said he has full range of motion. He said later this month, he’ll be able to start doing upper-body lifting.
“In the summer, I’ll mainly do the offense,” Maldonado said. “Last year (early in the season), I had only a week to learn it. But I’ll be with the offense and maybe in certain situations I’ll go back (to defense).”
He said colleges are looking at him both at safety and receiver. He has offers from both Arizona and Arizona State, along with Northwestern and Iowa State.
“In the next couple of months, I’ll definitely start narrowing it down,” he said.
— Saguaro running back Israel Benjamin, who has offers from every Ivy League school, as well as BYU, has had a good run of offers since his junior season ended and he ran for more than 1,000 yards. Benjamin spent his sophomore year at Saguaro as a scout-team running back in practice after transferring from Phoenix Brophy Prep.
“I’m looking forward to the spring,” he said. “I think getting this junior season of film out was pretty impressive to some coaches. I’ve had a lot of coaches contact me so far, and a lot of coaches say they’re going to come back to look at me in the spring. I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes. But I’m also content with the schools that I have so far.”
— Scottsdale Chaparral wide receiver and kicker Tommy Christakos is being recruited both as a receiver and a kicker. He said he is definitely willing to do both in college. He wants to commit before the start of the season “so I can’ play my senior season stress-free, just with the boys.”2021 class
— Goodyear Desert Edge cornerback Steven Ortiz Jr., picked up a Penn State offer last week. That was special for Ortiz, who has family all over the northeastern part of the country.
“I was hyped about it,” he said. “I called my family back home and told them how much it meant to me. If I visit there, I’m going to hang out with them. I’m from New York. My family is from Pennsylvania, New York, Newark (N.J.), all around the area. It was a blessing.”
Desert Edge 2021 DB Steven Ortiz Jr., 2022 QB Adryan Lara are ready for recruiting fast track Richard Obert, azcentral sports
This summer, Ortiz said he wants the team to be so tight they can name each other’s favorite colors.
His biggest strengths?
“Being loud and being a leader on the football team,” he said.
— Saguaro offensive lineman Bram Walden, whom coach Jason Mohns believes could be one of the best linemen to come out of Saguaro, started all of his sophomore season, and is picking up offers.
“I just want to get faster and stronger, be an all-around better player,” Walden said. “We have a good line on our O-line. We hang out all the time.”
Walden is one of four starting offensive linemen returning for the 4A champions. Next season, Saguaro will likely land in the eight-team Open Division for the state playoffs, competing against 6A Chandler and 5A Peoria Centennial.
“Yeah, I’m excited,” Walden said. “I want to play the best competition we have. It will just get me ready for the next level.”
— Chaparral running back Jared Williams showed his home-run hitting abilities last season when he filled in for an injured Darvon Hubbard. He’ll have a main role this season with Hubbard now at Surprise Willow Canyon.
Chaparral RB Jared Williams (Photo: Richard Obert / The Republic)
“I think it’s a huge blessing for me to be able to start now,” Williams said. “Given the opportunity I have, I’m definitely going to take advantage of it.”
No offers yet, but Williams said ASU and UCLA have talked to him.
“I’m very humbled by that,” he said.2022 class
Desert Edge quarterback Adryan Lara, ranked No. 1 by The Republic in the 2022 class, started as a freshman and led the Scorpions to the 4A state semifinals. He has drawn comparisons to Spencer Rattler with his arm strength at this age.
He isn’t in a recruiting fast track. Lara said he feels he has grown in his ability to read defenses and his arm strength.
“It’s all going to shake itself out,” Lara said. “I’m just trying to make myself ready for it.”
Desert Edge quarterback Adryan Lara (Photo: Richard Obert / The Republic)
— Chandler running back/slot receiver Quaron Adams said he feels he is ready for varsity football. He had a big role on the freshman team which dominated its opponents.
“I can’t wait to get out there and put in the work,” said Adams, who is currently in the midst of track season, and has already run the 100 meter in 10.74 seconds