PLANTATION, Fla. — Miami entered the final weeks of both Patrick Surtain Jr.‘s and Tyson Campbell‘s recruitments as underdogs in the race for the 5-star cornerbacks. Campbell once seemed to have the Hurricanes at or near the top of his list, but Georgia seized control of the recruitment after hosting the 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive back for an official visit during January. Surtain trended the opposite way — Miami wasn’t in the 6-2, 190-pound defensive back’s original top 6, but found its way to become a finalist after hosting him for an official visit this past weekend.
In what must feel like a missed opportunity for the Hurricanes, the two best prospects in the Miami metropolitan area are heading to the SEC. Campbell signed with the Bulldogs and Surtain to Alabama during a National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday at American Heritage School in Plantation.
Tyson Campbell picks Georgia. pic.twitter.com/01L8gRu4iP
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) February 7, 2018
Surtain and Campbell made for a unique combination at American Heritage this fall. Ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the 247Sports composite rankings, respectively, Surtain and Campbell made it virtually impossible to pass against the Patriots. They were part of an unprecedented class of talented defensive backs in South Florida, which also included 4-star cornerbacks Asante Samuel Jr. and Al Blades Jr. By missing on both Surtain and Campbell, the Hurricanes will pull in just one of the top-100 defensive backs from their own backyard.
Both corners faced tough choice entering the final days. Both insist they didn’t have their final decisions made until this week.
Patrick Surtain Jr. goes with Alabama. "We're used to winning around here." pic.twitter.com/MFCYP9dIWb
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) February 7, 2018
Surtain long maintained Alabama ran No. 2 to LSU and Clemson was also a factor during the final month of his recruitment. Campbell also weighed the Crimson Tide against Georgia and Miami. The Hurricanes tried to lean on the appeal of representing their hometown and playing for cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, who previously coached both at American Heritage. In the end, the two seniors found other factors more important.
Surtain’s father, Patrick Surtain, grew up in New Orleans. Most of his family still resides in either The Big Easy or Baton Rouge, La. Those strong ties to Louisiana made LSU the initial front runner. The younger Surtain also isn’t originally from Florida. He was born in Kansas City when his father was playing for the Chiefs.
Campbell stuck with his familial ties. He has family near Athens, Ga., and chose a school which played in the most recent national championship. The Bulldogs consistently recruited Campbell harder than anyone. When defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley left Alabama to become Colorado State’s defensive coordinator, it opened the door for Georgia to secure Campbell’s commitment.
Surtain and Campbell spurning the Hurricanes leaves Miami with four cornerbacks in the class, and five defensive backs total. The Hurricanes signed 4-star cornerbacks Gilbert Frierson, D.J. Ivey and Blades during the early signing period, and added 3-star cornerback Nigel Bethel on Wednesday. Gurvan Hall, a 4-star safety, rounds out the class. He signed a letter of intent during the early signing period.
Miami finishes going 1 for 4 with the so-called “Heritage 4.” Nesta Silvera, a 4-star defensive tackle, followed through with his year-long commitment to the Hurricanes by signing Wednesday, while 4-star weakside defensive end Andrew Chatfield committed to and signed with Florida.
Chatfield also considered Miami, Florida State and Oklahoma, although it was ultimately a two-team race between the Gators and Hurricanes. The 6-3, 220-pound edge rusher took an official visit to Miami during January, but coach Mark Richt never made an in-home visit with the Miami-Dade County native.
The Hurricanes now settle for only two defensive ends in the Class of 2018. Both 3-star weakside defensive ends Gregory Rousseau and Patrick Joyner signed with Miami during the early signing period. Joyner will move to linebacker.
Silvera is a crucial boost to the defensive line, though. After the Hurricanes missed on 4-star defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, who stuck by his Texas pledge, Silvera was a must-get for Miami. The Hurricanes are still in the mix for 3-star defensive tackle Jamarcus Chatman. He will announce his commitment at 11:15 a.m. The 3-star defensive tackle will consider Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and the Seminoles. The Hurricanes long appeared to be the favorite. Florida State, however, has picked up some late momentum and now feels confident about landing the defensive lineman.