When you hear the term “football families”, names like the Mannings, McCafferys and Matthews immediately enter the mind. These families have captivated the viewing audience for several generations now, showing that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
If you have been following the 2019 ACC football season, the Surratt name is one that has dominated the headlines.
One older brother in Chapel Hill, the younger in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The ladder of the two has been especially spectacular this season.
During the 2018 season, we got a small glimpse into what Wake Forest wide receiver Sage Surratt was capable of. The redshirt freshman accounted for 581 and 4 touchdowns on 41 receptions during his first year on the field.
Those numbers have been shattered in 2019. Surratt has posted 66 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns in only eight games this season. That type of performance, aside from setting himself for some potential postseason accolades, have grabbed NFL Draft evaluators attention big time… and rightfully so.
Surratt has been blessed with outstanding size at 6’3” and 215 pounds. Sage uses every bit of his god given size to win at the catch point. He routinely is able to box out defenders, shielding the football from a potential defensive play on the ball.
Speaking of winning at the catch point. Springy athlete who gets inside position on the jump ball. He makes 50-50 balls seem more like 75-25 in his favor consistently. pic.twitter.com/JhsGw5dhGn— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) November 6, 2019
In a lot of ways, Sage resembles Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson in that regard. While Sage may not be the most dynamic athlete to ever play the game, he is able to make plays vertically. To accomplish this, Surratt uses his body. Body control, combined with his ability to win at the catch point, presents elite traits.
Excellent release and concentration on the deep ball. He has magnificent hand eye coordination that allows him to finish through the catch point. pic.twitter.com/ITwo2H4Rnd— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) November 6, 2019
Sage also has no problem establishing ideal leverage at the top of the route. He is able to threaten this leverage enough, allowing for sharp breaks in and out of routes.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Sage to cement his name in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Luckily, he still sits as a redshirt sophomore, with two seasons of eligibility remaining. So it’s a real reality that he might not even be apart of the class, putting this conversation on hold onto next year potentially.
Even so, Sage has all the ability to assert himself amongst the 2020 class, if he chooses the opportunity.
The Race To The 2020 NFL Draft
Everyone knows the mutants down in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide boast three outstanding wide receiver prospects in juniors Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith. Oklahoma has a stud of their own as well in junior CeeDee Lamb.
Lamb himself will be in an interesting battle with Jeudy to figure out who is WR1 in the class.
Then there’s players like Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr. and Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace who could have some say into deciding the hierarchy at the position. It is a very talented group potentially, boasting a vast array or skill sets and styles.
Surratt, despite the crowdedness at the top, will have a say in that position battle.
Sage currently sits as a top five wide receiver in my position rankings currently. His ability to affect the game at various levels of the field has made me a believer. And what a story Sage has become this season.
Wake Forest wide receiver Sage Surratt (@SageSurratt_14) could end up being a top five wide receiver prospect for me. Size, strong hands, underrated explosiveness to the top of his stem, competitiveness at the catch point, Sage has all the makings of an alpha at the next level. pic.twitter.com/RVEg8kE5ns— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) November 6, 2019
Ascending from a promising playmaker to one of the outstanding playmakers in college football, it would be safe to assume that Sage has put the Surratt name on the map.
However, another Surratt brother has also shown the ability to down some outstanding things, less than an hour and a half east of Wake Forest.
The University of North Carolina has seen some changing of the guard recently, bringing in a new head coach (Mack Brown) and outstanding freshman quarterback (Sam Howell) to spark the turnaround for the Tar Heels.
Thus far, the program has been able to do some promising things, exceeding expectations early on in the Mack Brown tenure.
On the Tar Heels defense, it is another (former) quarterback who has become the biggest difference maker on a defense that sports a surprising amount of future NFL talent.
We knew about safety Myles Dorn and defensive lineman Jason Strowbridge heading into 2019. They have been mainstays on the defense, demonstrating traits that next level evaluators are sure to covet heavily.
Those two were the constants, the predictable.
What was not nearly as predictable, is the successful transition of former starting quarterback Chazz Surratt to the linebacker position.
Game Film Example
You’d be hard pressed to find a better story than North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt (@Chazz_Surratt12). A former NFL quarterback for the Tar Heels, Chazz has become a dynamic fixture to the defense and has an NFL future. The Surratt family is phenomenally talented. pic.twitter.com/EDntf9tQRw— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) November 6, 2019
So far through nine games in 2019, Chazz has been nothing short of fantastic. Currently pacing the team in both tackles (90) and tackles for loss (10.5), while sharing the team lead in sacks with 5, Surratt has made a seamless transition that begs the question of just how good he could be down the line.
Chazz could stand to gain some added mass to his 6’3” and 230 pound frame. Luckily for him, his body type should easily be able to carry an extra 10-15 pounds without sacrificing much athleticism. A good sign for a player who projects as an outstanding athlete for the position.
Even going back to his quarterback days, Surratt was a player who won with his athleticism. And while the position may have changed, his areas of strengths have stayed the same.
You can see that part of his game all over the film, as he works sideline to sideline with ease.
In pass coverage, he demonstrates a refreshing understanding of route concepts, most likely also attributed to his quarterback background. We have seen Chazz mostly in zone responsibilities in coverage, showing a nice amount of urgency to get to his drops.
As he receives more and more responsibility in pass coverage, we should see more opportunities to do some work in man coverage. If he is able to translate his short area quickness and length to this particular area, we could be talking about some special opportunities during his evaluation.
Right now, Surratt’s slow trigger-read step is apparent from time to time. He is able to make up for it with his plus athleticism. With more experience, we should see his tackles for loss numbers to skyrocket.
And in a linebacker class that seems to have more question marks than answers currently, Surratt could provide enough promise to begin to ascend up draft boards, assuming he declares.
The Surratt Brothers Battle
The brothers had the opportunity to face off, quite literally, earlier in the season.
Now that Chazz has lined up on the offensive side, the brothers stood as playmakers through their brotherly opposition. In the end, the Demon Deacons came out on top against the Tar Heels 24-18 on September 13th.
Despite the loss for North Carolina, Chazz had a rock solid game with 8 total tackles and a tackle for loss. He was apart of a defensive unit that would hold Wake Forest well below their 35.7 point per game season average.
In the end, however, it was the younger brother Sage who would get the best of Chazz. He would record 9 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. In countless moments, Sage would continue to capture momentum throughout the game, like he has in many others thus far.
That altercation was just a small example of the type of big time potential that the Surratt brothers have to offer. Just a small taste for some captivating upside.
ACC fans and national fans alike can rejoice to capture a glimpse of the highly talented Surratt brothers. We could be looking at individually a couple future NFL stars, and berth of an up and coming decorated, football family.