Four-star Phenix City (Ala.) receiver Justyn Ross

Justyn Ross

TUSCALOOSA — For the first time since 2012, the No. 1 prospect in Alabama isn't staying home to go to school

Four-star Phenix City receiver Justyn Ross, the consensus top prospect in the state, announced today on ESPN2 that he would spurn in-state powers Alabama and Auburn and verbally committed to sign with Clemson.

The Crimson Tide had previously signed the No. 1 rated player in the state, according to 247Sports.com's composite rankings, in nine of the last 11 years — the previous exception being eventual Heisman Trophy-winning Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of Hueytown.

Ross was perceived to be a lock for the Tide, though Clemson — which is coached by Alabama native and former Crimson Tide walk-on Dabo Swinney — maintained a solid relationship with him throughout the process. Given his height at 6-foot-4, the former basketball player would've represented an immediate red zone threat in Tuscaloosa, something Alabama didn’t necessarily have among last year’s freshman receiver trio.

alex.byington@TimesDaily.com. Twitter @abyingtonTD.

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