"His best attribute is he's a winner," Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said. "I don't want to compare him to Tim Tebow or somebody like that, but he's not going to be pretty doing certain things but he has a tremendous will to win and he drags his teammates with him. He wants to win and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win. He's willing to do the dirty work, whether it is to block, tackle, whatever.
"He's a threat every play. He's not a pure pocket passer – though he's a more than adequate passer. He's a great runner, but he's not a running back. He's just a great athlete."
Ratliffe was promoted to varsity prior to his sophomore season and immediately became Scotland's starting quarterback.
"Our spread offense is almost like a fast break type of deal," Bailey said. "So he's almost like the point guard on a basketball team. He's going to be the distributor, but also he distributes to himself a lot."
Following the 2012 season, Ratliffe was named the Southeastern Conference's Offensive Co-Player of the Year. On the season, he completed 101-of-189 passes for 1,466 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 1,168 yards and 15 scores on 165 carries.
A couple of days after attending his second camp at North Carolina, the Tar Heels became the first to offer Ratliffe. The UNC staff is projecting him as an athlete.
"Whenever [Fedora's] Freak Show ended, Coach [Blake] Anderson asked me ‘Jayland, what if we don't need you at quarterback?'" Ratliffe said. "I said ‘Coach, I'll play any position you want.' He said they are going to recruit me as an athlete."
Vic Koenning, who recruits Scotland County for UNC, told Ratliffe that he could play several different positions for the Tar Heels, including safety, wide receiver, and linebacker. Additionally, the staff hasn't ruled out him playing quarterback.
"He's going to have to improve his passing skills," Bailey said. "He has two years – if he can progress in his passing ability, then they'll definitely look at him as a quarterback."
In addition to UNC, Ratliffe is hearing from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, NC State, and Ohio State.
"They're all talking to him, but they want to see how he looks this fall," Bailey said. "I think he's a quarterback at a lot of places, but some places – like Carolina – he's going to have to show that improvement."
Ratliffe's preference is quarterback, but a position move isn't a deal breaker.
"To me, it doesn't really matter, because I'm going to college," Ratliffe said. "A lot of people out of my family don't make it to college."
This summer, Ratliffe camped at UNC and NC State as an individual, and attended a team camp at Appalachian State. Fedora's Freak Show, which was his second UNC camp in three days, left the greatest impression.
"To me, there's nothing like playing up under the lights and the Freak Show was up under the lights," Ratliffe said. "It was awesome. We got to play dodge ball with the coaches and beat up on Coach [Larry] Fedora and Coach Anderson. We did the same drills [as we did in the earlier camp], but it was more intense with the music playing loud, [UNC] players out there. It was fun."
Ratliffe, who also attended a game at UNC, says the Tar Heels are his early favorite.
"I love it," Ratliffe said. "I love the atmosphere. I love to go there and see that Carolina Blue everywhere – it's even in the sky.
"They have a good fan base. I love seeing everybody in the Tar Pit going wild.
"And then they run a spread, no-huddle, fast-paced offense and that's what I like."
Despite his obviously strong feelings, Ratliffe isn't anywhere close to making a verbal commitment.
"I just want to give it time so that maybe they will offer me as a quarterback," Ratliffe said. "… I'm going to try my best to make them offer me as a quarterback. If that doesn't happen, I'll probably still go as an athlete."
Ratliffe grew up a UNC fan and is close with current Tar Heel Dominique Green… Previously, Ratliffe has played basketball and baseball for Scotland but has since given both up to focus more on football. He also ran track and will continue to do so to keep himself in shape during the offseason.