When the Los Angeles Rams clinched a spot in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, the win ensured that three local alums would be playing in this year’s big game.
The Rams, with former Brentwood Academy defensive back Jalen Ramsey, Ravenwood wide receiver Van Jefferson and Ensworth tight end Brycen Hopkins on the roster, defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 20-17, in an overtime thriller in the NFC Championship game, making their second Super Bowl appearance in the past four seasons.
However, Ramsey, Jefferson and Hopkins were not on the team last time around.
Ramsey is viewed as one of the Rams on-field leaders. He lines up all over the field and much of their defensive scheme revolves around him and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He has rewarded Los Angeles with another stellar season, earning his third career First-Team All-Pro honor and fifth consecutive Pro Bowl nod.
The Smyrna native began his high school career at Ensworth before transferring to Brentwood Academy where was a two-sport star in football and track and field. The Ramsey family’s roots still run deep in the area. His father Lamont operates Ramsey Performance Training out of Nashville, with RPT having trained five future NFL draft picks.
In college, Ramsey won a national championship and was a two-time All-American during his three seasons at Florida State. Prior to his tenure with the Rams, he played three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, falling just short of a Super Bowl appearance with a narrow loss in the 2017 AFC Championship.
Jefferson’s role with the Rams took a big step forward this season, as he was elevated to the team’s number two wideout slot following a season-ending injury to Robert Woods. The former Florida Gator had 50 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns, all major improvements from his rookie season. So far in the playoffs he has made five catches and totaled 89 all-purpose yards.
Jefferson, who grew up in Brentwood, was an All-State performer at Ravenwood, collecting 67 receptions, 1,223 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior to garner First-Team All-State accolades.
Like Jefferson, Hopkins joined the Rams during the 2020 NFL Draft. Hopkins, a Nashville native who suited up at Ensworth, is the son of former Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl offensive Tackle Brad Hopkins.
The younger Hopkins didn’t play organized football until he was a junior in high school, but he quickly adapted to the game, earning Division II-AA All-State honors during his senior season. The tight end has seen action in five games for the Rams this season, grabbing one catch in his limited appearances.
This marks the third-straight year an area alum has made it to the Super Bowl. Former Pearl-Cohn running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn played for last season’s Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while former Battle Ground Academy quarterback C.J. Beathard was on the San Francisco 49ers during their appearance in the 2019 season.