"Right now I'd say that USC, Miami, Ole Miss, Cal and Tennessee are recruiting me the hardest out of that list, and I've got more interest in them than the other schools in my top eight," said Tatum.
"I talk with the coaches at these programs on a weekly basis.
"I like the overall atmosphere of the coaching staff and the players at USC. I've already been there about two to three times and they seem like a real humble program for winning two back-to-back national titles. Everybody there works real hard and it shows in their program. And coach (Pete) Carroll is a defensive guru, so what better coach is out there that I could play for?
"I really like how USC is rich with tradition from Junior Seau to (Chris) Claiborne," he said. "I've done some good research on USC's program so far and I think that all of the people that I've spoken with from that program are genuine people.
"I recently entered the STAR Oakland scholarship essay and I won. The prize was $1000 in scholarship money. The coaches at USC really liked that and told me that they wanted me to send a copy of my essay over to them so that they could look at it. It really goes to show that they take their academics seriously at USC, and I really liked how the coaches were interested in seeing what I wrote.
"Miami is like Linebacker University," he said. "A lot of people are surprised that I haven't committed to the 'Canes yet. They've produced so many great players and a lot of them have gone onto the NFL. They really prepare you for the next level there and any linebacker that comes out of that program is going to be great.
"I also like their strong alumni support. It'd be great to go there and see someone like Ray Lewis come by. I'd like really pick the brain of somebody like that to see how it is in the NFL. I've liked them since I was a kid and I'll definitely get out there for an official visit when I can.
"I'm really good friends with Kevin Simon (linebacker) from Tennessee…I mean I've known him for about four years now. He always checks in on me to see how I'm doing on a personal level, and he doesn't just call me up to recruit me for Tennessee. I really appreciate that about him. They've also got a great graduation rate there too.
"And every player that's gone from California to their program has been successful. That's what really sticks out about their program to me. I definitely see myself playing there. The coaches that I've spoken with from Tennessee have all been real honest with me and they don't hype things up. And they're all real genuine and cool. I like what they have to offer," said Tatum.
"Coach (Ed) Orgeron from Ole Miss is doing a great job recruiting me. He sends me stuff everyday from post cards to handwritten letters. He's really going out of his way to recruit me. I've also spoken with coach (Ryan) Nielsen (defensive line) from there also. They definitely look like they're going to be an up-and-coming program.
"One of the main things that really impresses me about the program is their high graduation rate--it just goes to show that they take life after football very seriously over there. The coaches have told me that they've got great academic advisors and tutors, but a lot of programs say that. But Ole Miss backs it up with their 93% graduation rate.
"Cal was the first school to offer me and it's my hometown school. I talk with coaches (Jeff) Tedford, (Bob) Gregory (defensive coord), (Justin) Wilcox (linebackers) and (Ron) Gould (running backs) on a regular basis, and everybody there is real genuine. My cousin, Robert Jordan (wide receiver), also goes there and I'm also close friends with Marshawn Lynch (running back).
Coach Gould always sends me handwritten letters everyday. They're a program that's going to stay in my top five throughout this whole process simply out of respect to them. I'm thinking of everybody out there and Cal is a big part of that," he said.
He was at Cal and USC's JR Days and recently attended the Scout.com combine in Berkeley on May 15.
"I'm going to go to Cal and USC for camps this summer and if I can, I'd like to try for an unofficial to Miami as well.
"I'm still looking towards Signing Day to commit to a program. It would be a true dream to do that at the Army All-American game (sponsored by Scout.com). But if I feel ready and comfortable with a school…then I won't hesitate on committing earlier."
3.6 GPA/1350 SAT (new version)--will not retest/first-time ACT unset