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June 25, 2012
ATLANTA -- Jalen Ramsey came into the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge feeling the buzz on Tennessee football was too low. So, the four-star cornerback decided to make his own noise.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Ramsey, from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy, outperformed a collection of some of the most talented prospects in the country and was named MVP of the Five-Star Challenge 7-on-7 tournament by the team of Rivals.com analysts.
"I feel like I made a statement and that we deserve more looks in Tennessee," Ramsey said. "We want it just as much as anybody else wants it and we plan on going out there and getting it.
"I feel that a lot of Tennessee kids get overlooked, and my goal was to come out here and represent for Tennessee, my school and my family."
Ramsey's MVP nod was not without competition. Talented athletes were making spectacular plays all over the field on Sunday, but Ramsey's dominance was consistent from the first game until the Championship game, when he intercepted Northeast quarterback Christian Hackenberg twice despite his team losing, 32-25.
Ramsey actually picked off Hackenberg three times on the day, grabbing another in the two teams' round-robin matchup. However, Ramsey did more than just force turnovers on Sunday. He used his combination of size, speed, and coverage skills to lock up several of the nation's top wide receivers.
"Everyone knows about my press technique and my long arms and how I can get into people," Ramsey said. "What probably surprised other people is in the championship game, when they wouldn't allow me to play press and jam people, I still was locking them up and got interceptions. I showed people I am not just a press corner, I am an all-around corner.
"The talent out here was great, and that's what I expected. I wanted to go against the best and see what I could do against the best because I feel I am under-ranked, to be honest."
Currently the No. 90 overall player in the country, Ramsey may have a point, and he perceives the lack of respect for football in his home state of Tennessee as a reason he was not among those expected to come out of the weekend with MVP honors.
"Tennessee produces just as many athletes as any other state," Ramsey said. "We just don't get the hype, the recognition and the press."
Ramsey earned that recognition on the strength of his play Sunday, and not on the strength of his own self-promotion. The four-star did very little talking on the field and was very humble upon learning of his selection as tournament MVP.
"I give all glory to God. He gave me all these gifts; I may not even deserve them," Ramsey said. "It's just a blessing. I wanted to come out here, perform against the best, to compete and I just wanted to get better all around. Winning MVP, that's just extra."
With his MVP performance in the books, Ramsey has certainly elevated his own stock and also called attention to the fact that a kid from Tennessee played with the nation's best and came out on top.