The 21st installment of the Better Know a Buckeye series continues with the third and final Tarblooder of the class. Marshon Lattimore, listed right now as a position-less "athlete", followed his teammate Erick Smith in committing to Ohio State during the U.S. Army All-American Game. Last week's feature on Smith mentioned that Smith's commitment to Ohio State gave away the surprise of where Lattimore would commit later in that same ceremony.
As a result, Lattimore's recruitment is discussed briefly here. I assume the reader is familiar with the general story now after reading the previous features on Erick Smith and Marcelys Jones. Like Smith, the recruitment was mostly about Ohio State and Alabama though Ohio State seemed like the safe bet. After discussing the reasons for his commitment to Ohio State, I offer a breakdown of an "athlete" who wants to be a cornerback but may be a better wide receiver prospect. After discussing the likelihood of a redshirt in 2014, I offer some highlights for the reader to watch. I conclude with some miscellaneous things about Lattimore you may find interesting.
High School: Glenville High School; Cleveland
This feature assumes familiarity with the previous features of Marcelys Jones and Erick Smith, and especially Smith's feature last week. The recruitments of all three overlap in important ways.
Of Lattimore and Smith, both of whom expressed an interest in playing together in college, Lattimore was the higher-rated prospect and discovered by Ohio State first. Lattimore was given his scholarship offer on the first of September in 2012.
It took a year and a half from offer to commitment but Lattimore's initial reaction portended eventual good news for Ohio State fans. He was a lifelong Ohio State fan and wanted this offer.
“I’ve wanted to go to Ohio State since I was a little kid so just the feeling of being there was great. Seeing all of the former Glenville players there was great.”
Lattimore also received some big news from Meyer himself.
“He said I have an official offer,” Lattimore said. “He said ‘Hello’ and he said he’d love for me to be down there. It felt real good. I’ve liked Ohio State since I was a little kid.”
Like teammate Erick Smith, Alabama served as the primary competition for Ohio State. Lattimore (along with Jones and Smith) were all offered by Alabama in February 2013 and were part of that southern push during the summer of 2013 that saw the interest in Alabama increase.
Lattimore took the same visits as Smith, including the same unofficial and official visits to Georgia Tech, Alabama, and Ohio State.
Both were also going to announce during the U.S. Army All-American Game. There was not much intrigue to the selection that ultimately came, despite some late reports to the contrary. In fact, Erick Smith kind of served as a spoiler.
Whereas Erick Smith's hat selection ceremony included logical choices like Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, and Michigan, only Alabama and Oregon hats were on Lattimore's table. There was no surprise when Lattimore committed to Ohio State. In fact, Lattimore sighed that "Erick (Smith) already gave me up" before picking Ohio State.
Lattimore attributed the decision for Ohio State to wanting to play with his teammate in college but elaborated more in a follow-up interview with 247sports.
“Just the family atmosphere,” Lattimore said of why he’s headed to Columbus. “Just the fan base and everything. It’s big.”
“Just playing in that stadium with all those fans and just being there with that team, and I already have four teammates at Ohio State, it will be great to play with them again too,” Lattimore said.
Where He Excels
Lattimore is a difficult prospect to evaluate. Listed as an "athlete", he is either a future wide receiver or a future cornerback. Lattimore says he wants to play defense and is currently in Coombs' camp. He might actually be a better wide receiver prospect. Ohio State may not have recruited a better two-way prospect since former Tarblooder Ted Ginn Jr. ten years ago.
Lattimore as wide receiver is an enthralling prospect for a variety of reasons. He already runs routes better than most high school prospects. As a slot guy, Lattimore is explosive in small spaces. He pivots and changes direction with the ball in an almost elite manner. He can high-point balls. He has soft hands too. If I knew for a fact he would be a wide receiver in college, I would rank him as possibly the best of our wide receiver haul.
His heart is in defense, though. Lattimore would be a fast cornerback for Ohio State. His ability to flip hips and ride a wide receiver would allow him to blanket wide receivers at the next level.
Must Work On
His backpedal needs work if he is going to thrive as a cornerback for Ohio State. I am unaware of the primacy that new defensive coordinator Chris Ash may put on backpedal quickness for his cornerbacks. Not everyone emphasizes it.
I think Lattimore stands to benefit from selecting into a position and honing his craft for the duration of his Ohio State career. There are a lot of nuances to be learned to either position that could be lost if he shuffles between positions.
Lattimore can do too many things for too many units for him to redshirt in 2014, barring an injury. I expect Lattimore to become a presence on special teams this year and blossom thereafter.
- 11W feature on Lattimore after the inaugural Ohio-Michigan Border Classic. He had 8 catches for 99 yards in that game as wide receiver despite entering the game listed in various recruiting services as a top-five athlete or a top-ten cornerback.
- He had three catches for 83 yards, including a 47 yard touchdown reception late, but was rather silent in Glenville's 41-23 loss to Loveland in the Division II state championship game. He also had three tackles.
- Named the Division II defensive player of the year.
- He had 10 receiving touchdowns and three special teams touchdowns in 2013.