One year ago at this time, Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom was six months removed from suffering a broken leg in the Rose Bowl. His 2022 season was in doubt, but when fall camp began for the Buckeyes, he was on the field and practicing.
It was an immense amount of work in a short period of time. Ransom didn’t open the season as the Buckeyes’ starting strong safety, but that’s where he finished it.
Safeties coach Perry Eliano and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles wanted to bring him along slowly, but Ransom had different ideas. He ended up starting the final seven games for the Buckeyes last year, finishing third on the team with 74 tackles (and second with 49 solos).
Despite being a Thorpe Award semifinalist and Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, there are some Buckeye fans who only remember the touchdown that Ransom gave up in last year’s playoff game against Georgia. Ohio State’s defense got schemed up on that play, pitting a safety against a receiver who ran a 10.1 100 meters on the Bulldogs’ track team.
Ransom isn’t the only Buckeye defensive player with some painful memories from last year, but his approach to fixing those issues is what makes him one of the leaders on defense. It is also one of the reasons why Eliano has more plans for him this year.
“Lathan has always had that innate ability, even when I first got here. It’s just a matter of maturation, playing within the scheme,” Eliano explained. “Every coach is different, the teaching style is different, the mindset is different. So to see him grow from when I first got here till now, this summer of being a leader, it’s important to him. And it’s never been an issue with Lathan as far as work ethic and desire and want to. It’s just, there’s some things that take a little longer than others, and it’s about the process. And Lathan respects that.”
Eliano saw the work that Ransom put in, and it resulted in a solid spring with the first-team at strong safety. Thanks to young guys gaining experience and the transfer portal, the Buckeyes have more options at safety than they did a year ago. Ransom remains at the top of that board for Eliano as they look to fix last season’s issues and turn the secondary into a strength, rather than a concern.
“It starts with trust. It starts with consistency. It starts with putting good days on top of good days,” Eliano said. “Lathan had a really, really good spring. He’s even a better leader today than he was last year, obviously. Being around him for a full year now, he’s fully healthy. Credit to the young man. He’s tough. He came back from a catastrophic injury and he was back playing come August. And so he’s done a tremendous job. Players play, coaches coach, and if you’re a playmaker, we’re gonna find ways to put you in position to help this football team win.”
When the Buckeyes do finally take the field this year, Lathan Ransom will be there. Because he has emerged as one of the team’s leaders, however, he won’t be alone. His contributions will go beyond what he himself produces this year.
“We do have a saying, ‘Unseen hours, unrequired work.’ And he’s done that. And yes, he’s brought guys along with him,” Eliano said. “I think the whole group is starting to understand that it’s not rocket science, but it’s about what you put into this game, outside of what’s required of you. He’s definitely carried that mantra into the spring, this summer, and it’s exciting to see his leadership grow like that.”