The top-ranked undecided recruit heading into National Signing Day has revealed his decision. Patrick Surtain Jr., the No. 1 cornerback in the class of 2018, announced on Wednesday morning that he is heading to Alabama. Surtain picked the Crimson Tide over Clemson, LSU and Miami.
Surtain’s announcement comes after he reportedly took official visits to LSU, Alabama and Clemson in January and Miami last weekend. Entering Wednesday, LSU was viewed as the heavy favorite for Surtain, who attends high school in the Hurricanes’ backyard, at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., but has family ties in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and had developed a close relationship with LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond. Plus, the Tigers were able to sell their recent success as a pro pipeline for defensive backs, with its notable products including Eric Reid, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Ultimately, those factors weren’t enough to persuade Surtain to turn down Alabama and its superior on-field track record. This season showed that the Crimson Tide dynasty is alive and well, and they’ve beaten LSU in seven consecutive meetings between the teams.
Surtain is the son of the three-time Pro Bowl DB 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. Surtain checks in as the No. 2 prospect in the talent-rich state of Florida, and he was invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last 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.
Surtain becomes the second highest-ranked prospect in Alabama’s 2018 class, behind only Saint Frances (Md.) Academy defensive end Eyabi Anoma, who signed a National Letter of Intent with the Crimson Tide during the early period in December. Alabama had reeled in four other defensive backs in this cycle before Surtain’s decision: Salmen (La.) High three-star cornerback Eddie Smith, Cheshire (Ct.) Academy four-star cornerback Josh Jobe, four-star St. Paul’s Episcopal (Ala.) School cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis and four-star Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cornerback Saivion Smith.
The Crimson Tide needed the infusion of talent in their secondary. Although they ranked second in the country in passing efficiency defense and fifth in Football Outsiders’ defensive passing S&P+ ratings last season en route to winning another national championship, they’re losing multiple important contributors from their defensive backfield, including projected first-round draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick and seniors Levi Wallace, Anthony Averett and Tony Brown. Surtain’s recruiting pedigree suggests he should be able to compete for a starting spot right away.
Surtain was not the only elite DB from American Heritage to announce his college choice on Wednesday. Teammate Tyson Campbell, the No. 2 cornerback in the class of 2018, picked Georgia over Alabama and Miami. Campbell’s commitment will fuel the Bulldogs’ push to finish this cycle with the No. 1-ranked class in the country.