Patrick Surtain Jr. was one of the few rising juniors to compete in Nike’s “The Opening” Finals in Beaverton, Ore., last week, and the elite prospect made the experience count.
The 5-star talent rated as the No. 1 cornerback in the Class of 2018 spent time with some of the top prospects in America, as well as some of college football’s current stars. That includes a pair of LSU Tigers, Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams.
Adams is one of a number of LSU defensive backs that have proven to be role models for the Sunshine State product. Fournette, well, is Fournette. Being around two of the nation’s top college football players has helped the Tigers gain a slight lead over Florida State for the top-ranked cornerback.
“I watch highlights of all the great ones that played at LSU like every day,” Surtain admitted to SEC Country. “Like Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Eric Reid … all of those guys are great players, and so is Jamal, and just seeing the atmosphere of Death Valley looks crazy. It makes me more interested.”
Surtain will get a closer look at Death Valley next weekend when he and his father, former NFL standout cornerback Pat Surtain return to Louisiana for LSU’s elite prospect camp.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for the younger Surtain, who has family scattered across the state. His father was born and raised in New Orleans, which has created a unique tie to The Boot for Florida’s top-rated prospect.
“You know, I loved LSU since I was a kid. My family lives up there, so that makes them (at) the top of my list,” Surtain explained. “It’s close between them and Florida State, but LSU gets the edge because of those two things. Another thing is that it feels almost like home, so that’s a major key.”
The 6-foot-2, 181-pound defensive back clocked a 4.57-second 40 and a 4.55 shuttle at “The Opening,” finishing with an overall Nike rating of 92.16. More important than measurables, though, Surtain had an opportunity to heed advice from one of his role models.
Adams spent much of the week coaching the American Heritage School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) product, and those messages quickly resonated with the corner. One area of his game he felt benefited was his confidence level.
“Jamal is a great player and to have him coach on your team is an honor,” Surtain said. “We were put in schemes on defense that some of us had never learned before, so to be able to listen and learn was a great honor.
“Jamal told us to always play with that dog mentality and to always have confidence on and off the field. When I’m on the field, (he taught me to) have the confidence to take out the No. 1 receiver and take him out of the game … I got better as a football player every time I compete with the best players in the nation. That’s always going to get you better.”
While Adams served as more of a teacher, the same cannot be said about his teammate.
Fournette may have taught some of the running backs in attendance at “The Opening,” but he was a class clown when it came to Surtain. In the process, both elite players made a friend.
“He’s a funny dude,” Surtain said of LSU’s running back. “He was getting along with us and telling us the things in college you have to get ready for and things like that. It was great meeting him … Leonard was so goofy, and that’s the thing that caught my eye.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.