Arizona Becoming a Hotbed for High School Football Talent

Salpointe Catholic’s Lathan Ransom (left) and Bijan Robinson (right). Photo Credit: Rich Reid

When high school football season gets underway on Aug. 23, a lot of eyes will be on Arizona where some of the nation’s best recruits will be on display.

The Grand Canyon state is home to nine athletes ranked in ESPN’s Top 300 rankings as well as many others who are unranked in national rankings but are heading to big time Division 1 programs.

Leading Arizona’s 2020 class is Saguaro cornerback Kelee Ringo. Ringo is rated as the No. 1 cornerback in the country, No. 8 overall by 247Sports and No. 12 overall by ESPN.

“I think the best term I heard used to describe him was a unicorn,” Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns said. “It’s like they don’t exist. He’s 6’3” and he’s got hips and he’s got feet, and he’s got length and he can cover. That’s what makes him so unique is he’s a strong safety that has the skill set to play a boundary corner.”

At the end of June, Ringo announced his top five schools were Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas. Heading in to the season, he still has not committed.

“The attention is just a factor of motivation that just makes me want to get better,” Ringo said of the noise surrounding his pending commitment. “The thing that’s going to get me to commit to a school is my relationship with the coaches and that I just feel happy there.”

Ringo could be joining a fellow Arizona 2020 standout, Salpointe Catholic running back Bijan Robinson, if he chooses to attend Texas. Robinson committed to play for the Longhorns in early August.

247Sports has Robinson ranked No. 18 overall and No. 3 at running back. In 2018, Robinson had 2,400 rushing yards with 35 touchdowns.

“I think some of the finer details of just being a running back, he understands (now),” Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene said. “What the guys up front are doing, he understand protections, and he understands defenses better. He’s really grown leaps and bounds in understanding the details of the game.”

On the opposite side of the ball, the Lancers have another threat in Ohio State commit Lathan Ransom. Ransom is rated as the No. 4 safety in the country by ESPN and 247Sports and comes in at No. 77 nationally by 247Sports.

“Nobody has outworked him,” Bene said of Ransom. “He’s really committed himself hard in the offseason and his body has transformed. I’m not sure I’ve seen very many kids who have just changed physically.”

Also committed to Ohio State next fall is Chaparral quarterback Jack Miller. Miller is rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the nation by 247Sports.

Miller is a part of yet another impressive class of quarterbacks being developed in Arizona that includes No. 4 rated Perry quarterback and Louisville commit Chubba Purdy, as well as Michigan commit JD Johnson out of Pinnacle.

Protecting Johnson on the Pioneers line is the nation’s No. 8 ranked offensive tackle Tosh Baker. Baker is rated as No. 70 overall, No. 3 in the state by 247Sports and is committed to play at Notre Dame.

“(Tosh) is such a smart kid,” Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke said. “Our O-line coach could go and correct a mistake and he’s already talking back, ‘Yeah, I know, I didn’t have my hands placed where I should.’ Tosh really sets himself a part by self-evaluating and self-correcting. He wants to be the best at his position.”


 

The general consensus from many coaches on the 2020 class is that this year’s crop of seniors may be some of the best the state has seen.

“I think the 2020 class may be from a depth standpoint one of the most talented classes to ever come through Arizona, if not the most,” Mohns said. “You’ve got a ton of guys that are D1 caliber players that are the three-star guys or even some guys that aren’t rated or a little under the radar that are D1 caliber players.”

The task of continuing to develop the country’s best players isn’t one that coaches take lightly. Right now, they’re relishing in being able to coach up such elite talent.

“Arizona has as good of high school players as there are in the country,” Bene said. “It’s really exciting to be in the middle of it.”