- The top recruit left on the board in the class of 2018 is a rangy cornerback with promising NFL bloodlines, and he's down to LSU and Alabama.
National Signing Day probably won’t be as eventful this year as it has been in the past. Most of the top prospects in the class of 2018 ended their recruitments by sending in their National Letter of Intent during the end of the new 72-hour early signing period last month. But there remain coveted prospects in the class who have yet to finalize their college decisions, including five with five-star ratings, according to the 247Sports Composite. SI.com is breaking down each one of them before the cycle effectively draws to a close on Feb. 7. First up is Patrick Surtain Jr.
Fast Facts: Patrick Surtain Jr.
247Sports Composite rank: No. 5 in the class of 2018, No. 1 CB
Height/weight: 6'2"/181 pounds
High School: American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
Surtain is the son of the three-time Pro Bowl defensive back with whom he shares a name. The elder Surtain also serves as his son’s head coach at American Heritage, which has gone 27–0 with two state titles over the last two seasons and boasts two elite cornerbacks in Surtain and Tyson Campbell, the No. 3 prospect at that position in the class of 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite. Surtain checks in as the No. 2 prospect in the talent-rich state of Florida, per the 247Sports Composite, and he was invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio earlier this month. Surtain “has the pedigree, elite size at 6-foot-2, speed and ball skills,” 247Sports director of scouting Barton Simmons wrote in early January. “He’s got the same skill set that Florida State All-American Tarvarus McFadden brings to the table.”
In mid-January, Surtain took an official visit to LSU, the longtime leader in his recruitment, then took an official visit to Alabama. With those two trips out of the way, Surtain will head into his planned signing day announcement as the top undecided recruit in the class of 2018. The Tigers and Crimson Tide are viewed as the two main contenders in his recruitment.
How he fits
Although Surtain hails from South Florida, he has family members from Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and his father played at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. LSU recently has developed a reputation as something of a “DBU,” having produced standout defensive backs like Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid and Patrick Peterson. No cornerbacks or safeties signed with the Tigers during the early window, but the No. 4 safety in the nation, Scotlandville Magnet (La.) High’s Kelvin Joseph, issued a verbal pledge to LSU during the All-American Bowl. Two Tigers junior cornerbacks, Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II, announced earlier this month that they’re declaring for the NFL draft.
Whereas LSU’s location and its history of grooming highly regarded defensive backs may help the Tigers’ chances with Surtain, Alabama can sell an unparalleled on-field track record this decade, capped by the national championship they just won. And it doesn’t hurt that the Crimson Tide have beaten LSU in the teams’ last seven meetings. Alabama signed three four-star cornerbacks last month: Cheshire (Conn.) Academy’s Josh Jobe, St. Paul’s Episcopal’s (Ala.) Jalyn Armour-Davis and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Saivion Smith, a former LSU signee. But the Crimson Tide are losing several major contributors from their secondary, including first-team All-SEC selection Minkah Fitzpatrick and seniors Tony Brown, Levi Wallace and Anthony Averett.