Editor’s note: Lathan Ransom is one of Southern Arizona’s most sought-after high school football players. The Salpointe Catholic safety is documenting the recruiting process in a diary for the Star. This is his first entry.

Some people just don’t get it.

When it comes to recruitment, the public eye only sees the highlight tapes — actually videos, because tape isn’t in the football vocabulary unless it’s for wrapping ankles. We use Hudl.com, a website that provides instant access for college coaches around the country to see our highlights.

I’ll post my latest college offers from some of the top Division I programs in the country on Twitter and Instagram, and the likes and retweets begin to pile up. Recently I cut down my recruiting list to 14 schools: Arizona, Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Washington. Seems like the dream scenario for a soon-to-be high school senior, right? I’m on cloud nine right now, but we’ll get to that point in a minute.

First, you have to understand who I am as a person, the roots of Lathan Ransom.

Never in my life did I ever think I’d get to this point. I mean, you always believe it, but when you experience the recruiting process and meet these big-time coaches, it’s an indescribable feeling.

The only reason why I’m in this position is because of my family, coaches and friends. My pops played some running back in high school in Southern California before joining the military. My mom? Let’s just say she’s the hooper in the family. She has her basketball jersey number retired at Sahuarita High School. And my sister is a freshman volleyball player at my high school, Salpointe Catholic. Long story short, my family is athletic and we’re always competing at everything we do, but we support each other and hold each other accountable.

I’ll never forget after my sophomore year at Salpointe when the first offer from Cal came in and rankings for recruiting websites were released for the Class of 2020. I was ranked maybe 300th in the country at my position, which is safety. I told my dad, “I’m going to be the best safety in the nation.” He said, “We believe you,” but in reality, he was probably thinking, “Oh yeah, all right.”

My head coach, Dennis Bene, was the one who ingrained the idea in my head as one of the top safeties in the country. Coach Bene told me, “Let’s not try to be the best in the state; let’s be the best in the nation.” Initially, I just wanted to be one of the top players in Arizona because when I was first brought up to varsity as a freshman, I was scared and skinny. All I wanted to do was prove to my teammates that I belonged on this level. Any high school underclassman that’s been toe-to-toe with seniors knows my pain. It’s like being thrown into a lion’s cage. After I broke my collarbone freshman year, I packed on 20 pounds and started at safety and returned kickoffs and punts. After losing to Scottsdale Saguaro in the state championship game, my offseason began and the offers started to roll in.

A key reason to my success both on and off the field is my best friend, Bijan. If you don’t know who Bijan Robinson is, Google him, Twitter-search him, whatever. Let me put it to you this way: He was getting offers from Pac-12, SEC and Big 10 schools before I was, and our rivalry on the field is one of the reasons why I’m here now. Having Bijan on the team was the biggest blessing I could’ve asked for. He pushes me in everything we do. We’re friends off the field, but when we’re on the field, our practices get heated. I always have the prove-everyone-wrong mentality, so does he. We’re yin and yang.

Supportive and reliable family, coaches, friends and just flat-out hard work were the ingredients in turning my 247Sports page into that of a four-star recruit and the top safety on the West Coast. It’s even better when they can accompany you on recruiting visits. During NFL Draft weekend, I took an official visit to LSU with my family and had my first Southern experience. Everything is so green and historic in Baton Rouge, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more fried chicken in my life. We discovered I’m allergic to shellfish, but that didn’t stop my dad from eating it. And it was amazing to speak with potentially my future coach Ed Orgeron. Have you ever seen the movie “The Waterboy?” His voice reminds me of the special teams coach that wears overalls without a shirt underneath and you can’t understand a word he’s saying.

Unlike that guy, I can understand what Coach O is saying, and his kindness and genuineness is one of many reasons why I’m considering playing at LSU.

The whole experience was amazing, but the best part was wearing the purple and gold and walking out on the field at Tiger Stadium. The player I aspired to be is Jamal Adams from the New York Jets, and the fact that my feet were on the grass that launched my idol into the NFL among other defensive backs was breathtaking. There’s a reason why LSU is known as DBU — and that’s not self-titled, either — but the coaches are serious about the title. LSU has the credentials to back it up too; Google it.

Not too many people from Tucson can say they stepped foot on the field at Tiger Stadium, and that’s a badge I carry everywhere I go. I always want to represent Tucson. It’s not pronounced “Tuscan” like some people call it, and the product that has come out of the city over the last few years shows the talent we have here in town. I’m just glad my teammates and I have the chance to show coaches from around the country that Tucson has top-notch talent. We’re always second to Phoenix. LSU is familiar with Arizona but that’s only because of bowl games in the past. They don’t know anything about Tucson.

Which brings it all back to my point that outsiders don’t truly understand the recruiting process. There’s this pressure that we should always stay home and play for the local team. I love Arizona, and being a hometown hero is certainly in the fold, but why do I have to play at the UA? It’s understandable people in town want to see me play on a weekly basis, but at the end of the day my decision is my decision. I’m choosing my future, not the public.

Secondly, the public thinks all we do is let universities wine and dine us and receive letters in the mail. It’s stressful, and it can get annoying sometimes. My mom got (ticked) off one time because there were coaches texting her at 3 a.m., while some coaches were even texting my sister. Imagine people texting the two most important ladies in your life about you playing football.

People don’t see these things. They don’t see us waking up at 6 a.m. for morning workouts before school, followed by another mid-day workout and practice. They don’t see me getting started on my homework at 9 p.m. when I have to wake up early for another workout.

It’s a constant grind, but I’m making sure to smile through it all.

As I go through the recruiting process, I’ll provide a first-hand look at the toughest decision of my entire life. Sit back and enjoy the show.

The Star’s Justin Spears contributed to this story.

Sports producer

Justin writes stories and produces digital content about UA football and basketball and high school football. A Tucson native, Justin graduated from the UA in 2017 and is the host of the Wildcast Podcast and a radio host on ESPN Tucson.