KNOXVILLE -- The top-rated high school football player in Tennessee is heading to the West Coast.
Brentwood Academy cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the state's No. 1 prospect according to Rivals.com and 247Sports, committed to Southern Cal during an announcement ceremony Monday afternoon.
Ramsey's relationship with a beloved former University of Tennessee quarterback was a factor in his decision to join a vilified former Volunteers coach. The four-star prospect's other finalists were Vanderbilt, Washington, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn and Tennessee.
Two summer unofficial visits to Los Angeles were impressive enough to sway Ramsey to join the Trojans' program, which is led by former one-year Vols coach Lane Kiffin.
"He's a chill person outside of the football field," Ramsey told ESPN. "You can definitely get along with him, but he's going to push his kids and get the best out of his kids. He's a loving person despite all the rumors you hear in Tennessee with him. I don't feel like any of it is true.
"I love how he is. I love the man he is. I can't wait to play for him."
Strong showings at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta last month and Nike's The Opening in Oregon earlier this month caused Ramsey's stock to soar. He impressed enough at both events against some of the nation's top talents to see him rise to No. 29 in 247Sports' overall rankings. Ramsey has long arms that make him effective in press coverage and plenty of athletic ability, as he demonstrated when he won the Division II decathlon at the state track meet in May.
USC receivers coach Tee Martin, who quarterbacked UT to the 1998 national title and joined Kiffin's staff from Kentucky in February, helped the Trojans' case with Ramsey. Despite NCAA-levied recruiting sanctions, all 15 prospects currently committed to USC are four- or five-star players, which puts the Trojans atop the 247Sports and Rivals team rankings.
Ramsey told The Tennessean the Pac-12 program was the "perfect fit" for him.
Ramsey said his decision was ultimately between USC and the hometown Commodores. He had made a handful of unofficial visits to UT's campus since last April and was in town for the Vols' spring game this April. Yet UT wasn't a factor late in Ramsey's decision-making process.
"They were an in-state school," he told ESPN. "They're going to keep recruiting me. They told me they were going to keep recruiting me.
"I'm just comfortable with USC. Some of these other schools I like more than Tennessee right now. They were in the top seven on the list, but they were sort of on the back burner."
The Vols' current 2013 recruiting class stands at 13 commitments, though UT is waiting to land its first defensive back.
Official visits in July are unusual, but UT won't be complaining about its current special case.
Defensive end Dante Phillips was on campus Monday for a closer look at the Vols' program. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder from Venice, Fla., signed with Florida in February, but he was denied admission into school despite clearing the NCAA clearinghouse. The four-star prospect chose the Gators over offers from Miami and LSU, among others.
"I have not finally made a decision," Phillips wrote on his Twitter page Monday, "but I am lovin knoxville for all the vols fans."
The second of UT's summer camps for high school players began Monday and runs through Wednesday before the Vols contingent's turn at SEC media days.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...