February 21, 2012

State's top prospect gets Vols' royal treatment

Tennessee stopped just short of rolling out the orange carpet when [/db]Jalen Ramsey[/db] made the three-hour drive from Nashville Monday for an unofficial visit on Rocky Top.

Of course, that's an evident tactic for several schools recruiting the talented Midstate standout; Ramsey has an discarded TV box --- "about half as big as my dresser," he said --- full of mailings from various colleges, not to mention a couple shoe boxes full as well.

A somewhat regular visitor to the Tennessee campus and football program during the past year, Ramsey is among the top prospects --- in this state or any other --- for Derek Dooley & Co., and UT's coaches attempted to show the splendidly talented defensive back as much while Ramsey logged nearly eight hours on campus.

"(Monday) what stood out, I thought it was one of the best visits I've had in my times going up there," said the 6-foot, 183-pounder, a four-star prospect ranked tops in Tennessee inside the 150 nationally. "I got to see the academics part and hang out with a couple of players. See some of the academic programs on campus outside of just football.

"Even with football, I got there in time to see a little bit of their morning workout and how intense they are in the weight room. Towards the end of the day I got to kind of tour what the new facility was going to be like and tour the construction area. That was cool. I think I was actually the first recruit to be in there and do that."

Soft-spoken and humble almost too a fault, Ramsey quietly acknowledged the Vols' coaches' treatment of him Monday --- specifically making Ramsey the first prospect to tour the $40 million-plus renovation project on the Neyland-Thompson Center --- stood out.

"Oh yeah. That was a big thing. That was really cool to me," Ramsey said. "I got to meet the new coaches, coach Sal (Sunseri). Coach (Derrick) Ansley. That was great."

Ramsey cited a strong sense of determination from his interaction with UT's new staff additions.

"Those are great first impressions. The type of guys who you can tell, they want to win and they're going to go after it," he said. "They're going to put their best on the field. Those are things you like in a coach."

Though he fills a variety of roles for his Brentwood Academy squad, Ramsey projects as a defensive back on the college level, and he took particular interest Monday in Tennessee's new coaching alignment in its secondary. Recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph now will coach safeties while Derrick Ansley, who worked closely with Sunseri at Alabama, will coach cornerbacks.

"Yeah, definitely that's good. Sometimes we mix together and sometimes corners and safeties can work on things they need to solely work on," Ramsey said of the split arrangement.

Ramsey, who most recently accrued offers from Arkansas, Louisville and Virginia and also excels in the classroom, has had a busy spring. He's visited Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Vandy and Tennessee in just the past few weeks.

He'll take in Vanderbilt's basketball game Wednesday with his mother and father, but Ramsey is primarily focusing on improving in certain areas before B.A. conducts spring practice.

"My speed, just always that. Speed kills, especially at the college level," Ramsey said of his top target-area for improvement. "Speed is just totally different. That's a big thing. I feel like I've got good size, so just maintaining my size and adding on even more speed. Getting stronger. Work on footwork, DB-skills. Really, all I can do at this point."

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