Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with Alabama signee Patrick Surtain Jr.
Patrick Surtain Jr. talks close decision
LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond had been recruiting 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. since the Alabama signee was in the ninth grade. Surtain is very close to Raymond. The Tigers led for several years in his recruitment due, in part, to his relationship with Raymond.
Former Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley established a good relationship with Surtain, but he left for the Oakland Raiders in January. That left less than a month for Surtain to build a relationship with new DBs coach Karl Scott. While there was no way to compare his relationship with Scott to Raymond, it was clear that Surtain chose the possibility of winning championships over comfortability.
“It’s tough, but I wanted to be a part of that winning culture,” Surtain told SEC Country. “No disrespect to LSU — they are doing a great job over there. I respect Coach Raymond and coach [Ed] Orgeron. I just appreciate everything they’ve done for me, but Alabama is the right decision for me.”
Surtain told the LSU staff at midnight ET that he wasn’t choosing the Tigers. It destroyed the Tigers’ recruiting efforts because Clemson signee Mario Goodrich was leaning toward LSU, but he didn’t have a committable offer from Orgeron, so he chose Clemson. LSU was holding that spot for Surtain.
The phone call Surtain made changed Alabama’s and LSU’s future at the same time. The Tide landed a priority target as the team needs to replace every starter in the secondary from their 2017 team, while the Tigers whiffed on a player who they thought they were getting for years, and they failed to have a backup plan ready in case Surtain did choose a different school.
“It’s tough,” Orgeron said on Wednesday. “Put a lot of work into [recruiting him]. All indications the whole time was he was coming here. Night before you get a call and he’s not.
“Obviously you’ve got to change your plans. You know what? That’s recruiting. We’re happy with the guys we got. We want guys who want to be at LSU.”
Orgeron is right. It’s recruiting. There are no locks in recruiting. Alabama learned that on Wednesday, too, with 4-star wide receiver Justyn Ross. Ross had been trending toward Alabama for more than a month and gave a strong indication to the Tide that he was going to end up signing with them. He signed with Clemson instead.
Ross had been a major target for the Tide for more than a year. He was the state of Alabama’s No. 1 prospect. But recruiting happens, like Orgeron said. And it’s exactly what Surtain said happened to him and his choice to choose Alabama.
“It was a tough decision between LSU and Alabama,” Surtain said. “LSU has been my favorite ever since [my recruitment started], but stuff changes. I’m glad I made this decision.”
There were several reasons to believe Surtain would end up choosing the Tigers. He has lots of family in Louisiana. He had been to LSU more than Alabama throughout his recruiting process. His idol is Patrick Peterson, an LSU great. He talked on several occasions how great it would be to play in front of lots of family members.
That’s what made that midnight phone call a tough one.
“It was very hard. I was actually in tears,” Surtain said. “After the phone call ended, I was still in tears, but I knew Alabama was going to be the right decision for me.”
Surtain said he internally battled over his decision all day on Tuesday and said he would have chosen either school but ultimately decided that Alabama was the better option for him to reach his three goals: win the Jim Thorpe Award (given to the nation’s top defensive back, which Minkah Fitzpatrick won this past season), win a national championship and earn his degree.
“The winning atmosphere,” Surtain said is what put Alabama over the top. “The atmosphere is great up there. Coach [Nick] Saban does a great job with his players. I think I could fit in that situation. It’s a great fit for me, and it’s a great fit for my family.”
The Army All-American’s father, Patrick Surtain Sr., who played in the NFL from 1998-2008 for the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, said he thought his son was going to end up choosing LSU.
“I did. I actually did. That’s why he was so torn because he’s been liking LSU since he was a kid,” Patrick Surtain Sr. said. “He was their guy since ninth grade. The relationship he built with Coach Raymond, man, that was a special relationship and hopefully, that relationship can continue. They’re 17-year-old kids, man, so for an adult to fault a kid for going to a particular college, that’s not cool. He picked what was best for him and I’m happy for him.”
That comment came before former LSU Tiger and current Miami Dolphins wide receiver appeared to take a shot at Surtain Jr. for picking Alabama over his former school.
You don’t have a plate at this table no more.. Groupie
— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) February 7, 2018
Landry received a lot of backlash, rightfully so, for calling out a high school player on choosing a school that he didn’t support. He backtracked on his tweet several hours later and claimed his comments weren’t directed at anyone in particular … right.
Surtain Sr. did notice the comment.
Watch your mouth!!!
— PAT SURTAINl (@psurtain23) February 7, 2018
Surtain Jr. meant a lot for the future of LSU’s program. He was a must-get for the Tigers, and Saban stole him away from them. When asked if Alabama fans should expect to see him in a National Championship Game one day, Surtain responded with confidence.
“Oh yeah. Most definitely,” Surtain said with a smile.
That’ll be the day LSU thinks about what could’ve been while Alabama relishes in yet another major recruiting win over one of its rivals.
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