The biggest sleeper in the Carolinas?

The biggest sleeper in the Carolinas?

Defensive tackle J.T. Surratt is arguably one of the biggest sleeper prospects in the Carolinas this recruiting year. While the 6-3, 289 pounder is still a relatively unknown commodity to the recruiting services, Surratt possesses a special brand of athleticism and explosiveness for a player his size. Read inside as GamecockAnthem.com talks the latest with USC's under-the-radar commitment.


Surratt, who committed to South Carolina last month during an unofficial visit to Columbia, is considered by some to be the best kept secret in the Tar Heel State this cycle. The athletic defensive lineman boasts a 4.78 second forty yard dash, squats a Parkland High School weight room record 605 pounds, and benches around 400 pounds.

He's not a bad football player either.

Surratt, who has drawn comparisons to current Gamecock defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye, racked up an impressive 122 tackles, 22 sacks, and 28 tackles for loss last season while playing defensive end. While his future will be on the interior defensive line at the college level, Surratt's freakish measurables and productivity off the edge is impressive, to say the least.

So has the explosive defender drawn any new interest on the recruiting front since committing to the Gamecocks last month?

According to Surratt, he has not picked up any new offers in addition to the tenders he already held from Louisville, East Carolina, and Marshall at the time of his commitment. However, he is receiving new interest from the home state North Carolina Tar Heels.

"No other schools have offered me lately, but (North) Carolina is showing interest in me. I'm not really interested in them, though," said Surratt. "I'm just focused on South Carolina."

Firmly committed in his pledge to South Carolina, Surratt will be making a return trip to USC soon for the Gamecocks' second annual Showcase Camp.

"We're going down later this week. I'm looking forward to meeting the recruits, seeing how the campus life is, seeing more of the coaching and how that is, and things of that nature," said Surratt. "The coaches are excited about me coming down for the Showcase. They've been telling me they can't wait to get me down there."

The Gamecocks have fourteen total commitments in the 2010 recruiting class, and Surratt is eager to meet several of his future teammates for the first time at the Showcase Camp.

"I've talked with Dylan Thompson, the quarterback who committed. I've talked with him, and we introduced ourselves to each other. We talked about going down to the Showcase Camp, and we're going to get more acquainted down there. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with him and the (USC commitments) down at the Showcase."

Another one of Surratt's fellow USC commitments who will be at the Showcase Camp is heralded four-star defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles. Surratt has yet to meet the Greenwood High School standout, but he believes the two of them will team up to wreak havoc on the SEC in the coming years.

"Football is a competitive sport. He's one of the top (rated) defensive tackles, so he's got to be good. Both of us are going to work. I think we'll probably end up playing beside each other, making plays together."

Also a standout basketball player for Parkland, Surratt, who averaged 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks per game as a junior last year, enjoys spending time on the hardwood and adding new dunks to his repertoire. Of course, at 6-3 and 289 pounds, Surratt can do things athletically that most individuals his size - or most individuals, period - can only dream of.

"I can dunk a basketball jumping flat footed. For a long time, that's all I wanted to do," he said laughing. "I love shooting baskets and trying new things. For about a year now, I've been able to 360-dunk. I can reverse (dunk). I can throw it off the glass and catch (alley-oops) and stuff like that."

According to Parkland Head Football Coach Deangelo Bell, Surratt's history on the basketball floor has helped him develop into the football player he is today. However, Bell insists that his star lineman's best days on the gridiron are still ahead of him, emphasizing the upside that Surratt possesses once he gets in a college strength and conditioning program and is able to focus all of his attention on football.

"He's worked hard to develop into the D-I prospect he is now. He's strong and athletic - that's what makes him a good defensive lineman. His biggest asset is his athleticism. He's a pretty good basketball player, too. He's one of the leaders on the varsity basketball team. I definitely think that's helped him in football. It gave him great feet," Bell said of Surratt. "His upside is gonna be great, and that's the big thing about him. That's what a lot of people saw when they recruited him. He loves basketball, but once he gets into college and gets focused on football he's going to be very good, very good. His upside is gonna be great."

Currently rated as a two-star prospect on Scout.com, Surratt will have a chance to move up in the rankings after having his film evaluated and garnering more attention during his senior season.

If Surratt has the kind of senior campaign some believe he's capable of, he may be too good to keep flying beneath the proverbial recruiting radar much longer.


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