CHARLOTTE – The most accomplished football player in Lincoln County history is now playing a different position than the one that garnered him numerous high school state and national accolades.
And according to a teammate, the athletic ability of record-setting East Lincoln quarterback Chazz Surratt has made it easy.
“It’s probably one of the smoothest transitions you’ll ever see,” North Carolina senior safety Myles Dorn said at the ACC Kickoff event July 18 in uptown Charlotte. “He’s a natural athlete. He’s smart.”
Surratt made the switch from quarterback to linebacker in the spring for his redshirt junior season at UNC. He leaves the position where for the Mustangs he was as much of a threat passing the ball as he was running it. Surratt was named Parade All-America and Parade National Player of the Year and The Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year in North Carolina in 2015, the same year he set the state record for career total yards.
He made seven starts under center as a redshirt freshman in 2017 playing for coach Larry Fedora. That year, he finished with a team-high 1,342 yards passing, completing 107-of-183 attempts with eight touchdown passes and five more rushing. A year ago, Surratt only appeared in one game Sept. 27 before tearing a wrist ligament, which cost him the rest of the season.
Coach Mack Brown returned to UNC this season to lead the Tar Heels after Fedora was fired last fall, and the new coaching staff is implementing a more pass-heavy offense.
Now that Surratt is healthy, Dorn, a Charlotte native, believes his teammate’s experience as a quarterback is beneficial for his new position on the other side of the ball.
“When you can understand what the offense is doing on defense, you’ll put yourself in positions to make plays that most players couldn’t,” Dorn said. “Just his ability to recognize and play fast is great.”
Besides moving to a new position, Surratt has changed his body as well. Last season, Surratt was listed at 6-foot-3, weighing 215 pounds, but he’s now up to 230.
Surratt and the Tar Heels open the season close to home Aug. 31 against South Carolina in Charlotte.
Coach seeks consistency from Sage
Sage Surratt, Chazz’s younger brother, had some big moments in his redshirt freshman season last fall as a receiver for Wake Forest University, but his coach thinks he can be even better in 2019.
The younger Surratt had 41 receptions for 581 yards and four touchdowns, including a highlight-worthy catch against N.C. State Nov. 8. But there was a three-game stretch where he only had one catch for 17 yards.
“Last year he had some success,” Wake coach Dave Clawson said. “There were games – Tulane, N.C. State – that he made a big impact. There were other games that maybe his impact wasn’t what we would want.”
Surratt attended East Lincoln his first three years of high school before transferring to Lincolnton High for his senior year. In 2016-17, he was named the state player of the year in both basketball and football.
Heading into the 2019 season, Clawson believes Surratt has fully bought into honing his craft.
“I think what we’re looking forward to in year two with him is just consistently playing at that high level that he would know he’s capable of,” Clawson said. “He’s worked extremely hard. He’s a guy that has become, I think, obsessed with becoming a great football player. He’s smart. He’s a high-character guy.”