"They win championships," Surtain says in picking Bama over LSU; QB target picks A&M
BATON ROUGE — National Championship U. beat Defensive Back U. for Patrick Surtain Jr., the No. 1 cornerback in the country, Wednesday morning on the second national signing day of the 2017-18 recruiting season.
"For the next three to four years, I'll be furthering my education at," Surtain said on ESPNU Wednesday at about 9:20 a.m., then paused for several seconds. "At the University of Alabama. Roll Tide."
Asked about his decision, Surtain said, "Why Alabama? There's a coach over there, and they win championships. And I want to be a part of that winning culture."
Surtain (6-foot-2, 183 pounds) will be playing for Alabama coach Nick Saban, who was LSU's coach from 2000-04 with a national title in 2003 and then five national championships at Alabama over the last nine years.
"Coaching stability," answered Surtain's father Patrick Surtain when asked in various media interviews why his son chose Alabama over LSU.
Surtain is the No. 1 cornerback in the nation and No. 8 prospect nationally, according to Rivals.com, out of American Heritage High near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He picked Alabama, which has won two national titles in the last three years including the 2017 title, after favoring LSU for most of his recruitment. Saban has been Alabama's coach since 2007. LSU coach Ed Orgeron will be in his second full season next year.
On Jan. 19, Surtain visited Alabama after dropping in on LSU on Jan. 12. He was at Clemson on Jan. 25 and Miami on Feb. 1. He told Orgeron at 11 p.m. Tuesday night, he was not coming to LSU, Orgeron said Wednesday.
Surtain's signing with Alabama will likely keep LSU's Class of 2018 out of the top 10 as it also lost No. 13 ranked cornerback Mario Goodrich (6-2, 180) of Lee's Summit, Missouri, to Clemson on Wednesday morning. LSU's class entered Wednesday ranked No. 11 and was at No. 12 late Wednesday afternoon.
Without Surtain and Goodrich, LSU will sign no cornerbacks and no quarterbacks - with LSU quarterback target James Foster of Montgomery, Alabama, selecting Texas A&M and new coach Jimbo Fisher, a former LSU offensive coordinator who was interested in LSU's head coaching job over the last two years. LSU also only signed two running backs - both in the early period last December, and both are three-star prospects.
MORE: A look back at LSU's early siging day in December
Fisher also signed No. 41 ranked tight end Glenn Beal (6-5, 245) of John Curtis High in the New Orleans area, but he was considered a back burner possibility for LSU.
LSU was hoping its reputation as DBU would help edge all of Alabama's rings for Surtain, but Alabama made a late push. The Tigers had nine defensive backs in the NFL in 2017 to seven from Alabama. But Alabama has been more of a DBU on the field as it has outranked LSU in pass defensive efficiency over the last three consecutive seasons.
LSU also had family geography in its corner. Surtain's father, who is also his high school at American Heritage High, is a former three-sport star at Edna Karr High in New Orleans in the 1990s who won state championships in football and basketball while also running track. After playing at Southern Mississippi, the elder Surtain was a second-round pick in 1998 by Miami and became a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, finishing his career with Kansas City from 2005-08.
Surtain Jr. has family in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas, and Surtain has long been a fan of former LSU cornerback great Patrick Peterson, who was the fifth pick of the 2011 NFL Draft by Phoenix. Surtain is also a fan of LSU secondary coach Corey Raymond, a former LSU cornerback and safety who has handled most of Surtain's recruitment.
"That relationship with Corey has been for many years," said Mike Scarborough of Rivals.com/TigerBait.com who like most recruiting experts had Surtain LSU bound.
Alabama was hoping Raymond got a job with an NFL team to help its recruitment of Surtain, but that has not happened as of yet.
Surtain is the second top defensive back in six years to choose Alabama over LSU right under LSU's nose. In 2012, No. 2 safety Landon Collins, who was the No. 1 prospect in Louisiana out of Dutchtown High just outside of Baton Rouge and the No. 17 national prospect, signed with Alabama. He became a second round pick in the NFL Draft by the New York Giants in 2015 and remains with the Giants.
Without Surtain, LSU now has only one five-star prospect in its class - Parkway High/Bossier City's Terrace Marshall (6-4, 186), who is the No. 3 wide receiver in the nation, No. 21 prospect in the nation overall and No. 1 prospect in Louisiana. Surtain's signing could have helped push LSU's class to perhaps No. 7 or No. 8, Scarborough said.
Alabama could now move up in Rivals.com team rankings and finish higher than LSU for the 11th straight year.
LSU did recover somewhat from the loss of Surtain by signing No. 5 safety Kelvin Joseph (6-0, 185) on Wednesday. Orgeron said he would move Joseph to cornerback now with the loss of Surtain. Joseph is the No. 55 prospect in the nation out of Scotlandville High in Baton Rouge and is the No. 3 prospect in Louisiana.
LSU also signed No. 12 wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (6-2, 185), who is the No. 67 prospect in the nation out of Rummel High in Metairie and the No. 4 prospect in the state.
Joseph committed to LSU last week over such schools as Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas and Clemson. Chase visited Auburn over the weekend and previously visited TCU on Dec. 14 and Michigan on Nov. 23. He was at LSU on Jan. 11.
LSU had apparently previously dropped out of the running for Foster (6-3, 188), the No. 18 dual-threat quarterback in the nation out of Sidney Lanier High in Montgomery, Alabama. Fisher had started recruiting Foster when Fisher was Florida State's head coach until the end of the 2017 season. One of LSU's goals entering the 2017-18 recruiting season was to sign a quarterback. Orgeron now says he may sign a quarterback and a cornerback as transfers as his Class of 2018 is finished with 23 - tow under the maximum.