The son of a multi-time pro bowler in the NFL, Pat Surtain II was the #6 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class. As a 5-star elite prospect with an extremely recognizable last name, Surtain was, from day 1 in Tuscaloosa, assumed to be a 3-and-done, top-15 draft pick kind of player.
Often times, when a recruit has that much expectation placed on them, they inevitably don’t quite live up to the fan and media hype.
With Surtain, he exceeded it.
He played a rotational role in each of Alabama’s first 2 games in his freshman season, which was an achievement in its own right. In week three, starting cornerback Saivion Smith was victimized by D.K. Metcalf on the very first play of the game (in hindsight, getting outrun by Metcalf is understandable) and was benched in favor of Surtain. In a full game of matching up head to head with A.J. Brown, Surtain locked down the future NFL star to the tune of only a single catch.
He never relinquished the starting job after that, and grabbed his first career interception in his first actual start the following week. He went on to be named a Freshman All-American. By year two, he was already viewed by opposing coaches as the lockdown corner to look away from. Despite the lack of action, he picked off two passes and forced three fumbles on the season on his way to an Honorable All-American mention.
As a junior, Surtain was the lone returning starter from a secondary that sent 5 players on to the NFL. Rather than faltering under the weight of suddenly becoming the only veteran in the entire secondary, he rose to the challenge to have his most dominant season yet. He only allowed 21 catches for 273 yards over the course of the entire season (with most of those yards honestly coming on two plays) on his way to being named a Unanimous All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and a finalist for the Nagurski, Lott, Thorpe, and Bednarik Awards.
At 6’2” 200, Surtain is a tall, muscled corner that is BETTER than the prototype in the NFL... And he’s a silky smooth athlete with tremendous footwork, flexibility, and speed. That kind of size and athleticism combination is pretty much impossible to find, and he combines it with an entire lifetime of training with a former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback. He’s not just a perfect physical prospect, but considered a master technician at the position as well.
The only knock on his game going into the 2020 season was a lack of willingness to make tackles at times, and he made it a point in his junior season to really lay the wood whenever the chance presented itself.
Nice play by Patrick Surtain to read the play and quickly make the tackle pic.twitter.com/fkhKU6Fn4k— Billy M (@BillyM_91) November 28, 2020
Almost as if to prove the detractors wrong, he made sure to become an impact player on special teams, displaying a level of dedication to winning in all phases, rather than not risking injury in order to focus on just being a corner.
Check out this hit on upcoming high NFL Draft Pick Kadarius Toney:
The first taste of Kadarius Toney vs Patrick Surtain here.— Boom or Bust: The Draft Show (@BoomOrBustDraft) December 20, 2020
Great open field tackle by Surtain to get the shifty Toney down. Two future NFLers we’ll hear about a lot today. pic.twitter.com/6AcvmEJ1YV
In the last year, Surtain has consistently been name dropped by many Alabama players in interviews as the kind of guy that first stood out to them in Tuscaloosa as someone who was an example of consummate professionalism, dedication to being the absolute best, and a quiet leader on the team.
Surtain was projected by most at the end of the season to be a top-ten pick, though the way teams seem to be hyper-focusing on QBs, he may drop into the 10-15 range. Regardless, he’s going to go very early on the first night of the NFL draft and make some team very, very happy. The most common projected landing spot has been the Dallas Cowboys, where he could team up with Trevon Diggs again to re-form the tandem from 2019.
(Based on the sheer number of highlights against him in this reel, NFL Draft prospect Kellen Mond must have a career’s worth of nightmares thinking about Surtain in coverage)