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May 31, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Being named the top player in the state of Tennessee by Rivals.com was exactly what Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy athlete Jalen Ramsey needed to get motivated.
"There are a lot of exciting things happening in my life," Ramsey said. "To be thought of as the top player in the state is incredible but I know there are some guys right on me and I will have to get to work to stay at the top."
Ramsey is ranked the No. 135 player in the nation. Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth athlete Cornelius Elder is at No. 164 and Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven running back Mark Dodson Jr. is currently ranked No. 201.
Ramsey is well aware of each.
"Corn and Mark are both great players," he said. "Corn won Mr. Football last year, too. When (Rivals.com Southeast Analyst) Keith Neibuhr told me I would be in the top spot I knew I was going to have to get to work but it made me happy, too."
Shortly after being informed of his placement in the national rankings, Ramsey received his invitation to the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge June 22-24. His acceptance was immediate.
"I am not afraid to compete," he said. "That is a big reason why I think I have been successful."
Last season Ramsey recorded 45 tackles and intercepted three passes at cornerback but he is officially listed as an athlete in the Rivals.com database. It is a placement that Ramsey views as a compliment to his game.
"I like corner the best," he said. "But really I am an athlete. I can contribute on defense, offense, special teams. I run track. I work hard at everything and I think that being called an athlete is a compliment."
It is also something he thinks is going to help him in recruiting -- although with 20 current offers he does not need much of a boost.
"I don't want to say I am just a cornerback," Ramsey said. "I don't want coaches to think I can only do one thing and if they move me off that position I am going to quit on them. I can do a lot on the football field."
The 6-feet tall player with a 40 inch vertical will line up at cornerback at Atlanta's Lakewood Stadium next month for the South team for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
It is a role that he embraces as the event approaches.
"I want to go out there and be the best corner that I can," he said. "I want to show I can cover quick receivers, I want to show I can cover big receivers; I can press, I can use the off-technique. I am not just one thing and not just a guy that can only cover certain types of players."
"Haters are motivators for me," he said. "I want to leave a lasting impression on the field that my hard work paid off and that I went out and played with my whole heart.
"If I can meet my own expectations of myself then I think people will be blown away."
Mike Farrell's take
Ramsey is a remarkable athlete and very fast, and he can play cornerback or safety. Ramsey also has a 40-inch vertical and good ball skills, so if there is a guy on the Southeast team who could make some remarkable plays on defense, he could be the one. He's out to show he's the top player in Tennessee and one of the best in the Southeast.