The decision of Salpointe Catholic’s Lathan Ransom on Tuesday to take his talents to a prominent school out of state (Ohio State) is nothing new to Tucson.
It has happened for many years, including way back on Aug. 4, 1953 when legendary Tucson High School quarterback Pat Flood — who later became a Pac-10 referee — announced that he would be headed to Notre Dame about a month later.
No such as thing as an early signing period then.
Warren Woodson tried all he could to get Flood to play for the hometown Arizona Wildcats, but the coach did not have a chance. Flood, an all-state selection who led Tucson to state titles in 1951 and 1952, said in an Arizona Daily Star report on his announcement that he “always dreamed of playing at Notre Dame and I’m going to try to the best of my ability.”
Also offering him a scholarship were schools such as Stanford, Yale, California and Michigan.
Flood, who is half Irish, was so bent on going to Notre Dame he went there unrecruited. Frank Leahy, the Fighting Irish coach at the time, probably did not know anything about him. Flood went to South Bend, Ind., to try out for the freshman team, which did not have games scheduled. Freshmen were ineligible to play on the varsity.
“I’m sure competition will be rugged,” Flood told the Star. “I want to emphasize that I did not receive an athletic or scholastic scholarship to attend Notre Dame. If I prove myself, I’m hoping I can get either an athletic or scholastic scholarship later.”
Flood attended classes at Notre Dame for a year and changed course the following year and went to the Navy, where he lettered in football and swimming and earned academic All-American honors in football. He played in the 1958 Cotton Bowl.
After serving as a naval officer for four years, Flood came home and attended Arizona’s Law School, graduating in 1965.
Flood was one of three Badgers who graduated in 1953 and left the state to play for a high-level program. The others were tackle Guy Barrickman to Missouri and running back Joel Favara to Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State).
Ransom’s Salpointe teammates Bijan Robinson, a running back, and lineman Bruno Fina (son of former Arizona and NFL lineman John Fina) are also being recruited by major college programs. Robinson will choose from Ohio State, USC and Texas on Aug. 2. Bruno Fina is leaning toward UCLA or USC, according to 247Sports.
Here is an updated list of Tucson-area football players who left the state to play for a Power 5 program:
- QB Pat Flood, Tucson (1952 senior), Notre Dame/Navy
- OL Guy Barrickman, Tucson (1952), Missouri
- RB Joel Favara, Tucson (1952), Oklahoma State
- FB Mark Simon, Tucson (1970), Wisconsin
- LB Marvin Lewis, Tucson (1971), USC
- TE Jinx Johnson, Tucson (1972), Pittsburgh
- LB Riki Ellison, Amphi (1978), USC
- WR Jay Dobyns, Sahuaro (1979), Arkansas/Arizona
- RB Fred Sims, Sunnyside (1980), Oklahoma
- QB Rodney Peete, Sahuaro (1983 junior, played at Overland Park, Kan., Shawnee Mission as a senior), USC
- RB Jon Volpe, Amphi (1986), Stanford
- PK Cole Ford, Sabino (1991), USC
- LB Jon McGee, Sahuaro (1992), USC/Oklahoma
- LB Greg Tellam, Sabino (1992), USC
- TE Junior Rickman, CDO (1993), USC
- WR Brian Poli-Dixon, Sabino (1996), UCLA
- OL Mike Saffer, Sabino (1997), UCLA
- QB Reggie Robertson, Sahuaro (1999), California
- TE Doyal Butler, Sabino (1999), Purdue/USC
- OL Kris O’Dowd, Salpointe (2006), USC
- WR Keanu Nelson, Sabino (2009), Stanford
- LB Blake Martinez, CDO (2011), Stanford
- OL Andrew Mike, Sabino (2013), Florida
- OL Matteo Mele, Salpointe (2017), Washington
- S Lathan Ransom, Salpointe (2020), Ohio State
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.