Chazz Surratt: Average Quarterback Turned Star Linebacker

Star UNC linebacker Chazz Surratt faced a long journey to get where he is today. 

Back in middle school in the small town of Denver, NC, Suratt’s football career began as a quarterback. He attended East Lincoln High School, where he threw for a total of 3540 yards and 48 touchdowns over his three varsity seasons. 

Suratt knew he wanted to continue his career as a quarterback and decided to do it at UNC. While he started his career at UNC as a quarterback, but he struggled at the position and didn’t get very much playing time. As a freshman, he completed 58.5% of the passes for 1,342 passing yards and 8 touchdowns in 9 games. During his sophomore year his completion rate dropped to 40 percent and he threw 3 interceptions and 10 total passing yards in only one game. He injured his right wrist in September, which impacted his ability to continue as a quarterback. 

The injury also pushed him to consider changing positions. Coming into his third year of college football, he knew he wanted to switch his position and he knew that he wanted it to be defense. Initially he wanted to transition to safety because of the similarity in how the two positions study plays. Eventually, he decided, with the help and support of his coach Mack Brown, it would be better to change to middle linebacker.

This transition wasn’t completely new to him, as he started out playing linebacker, safety and even sometimes running back or receiver during his freshman year in high school. But few, if any, players have transitioned from quarterback to middle linebacker so late in the college careers. 

But Suratt has been outstanding. He has started every game, and has made a team-leading  95 total tackles, 54 of which were solo. He also has 5 sacks, 1 force fumble, and 1 interception. In the last 4 consecutive games he has had 12 or more tackles.

 Brown was skeptical of Surratt’s intended switch, but now is glad he made it.

 “Chazz has gone from a guy who people kind of snickered at for moving him from quarterback to linebacker about a year ago,” Brown said before UNC’s October game against Virginia Tech, “to a guy who is playing as well as any linebacker we’ve had in the last number of years and has a chance to be in the NFL.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Surratt’s success has caught the attention of Riverside linebacker Torey Floyd and quarterback Landin Sledge. Both had thoughts on if they could ever do the same as Surratt.

Floyd has played football since seventh grade. However, he has only played linebacker for three years.

“It would be easy for me to read,” Floyd said. “I know the calls on defense I can know the offense calls as well if I actually study them. I have the awareness, arm strength and mobility to play quarterback.” 

Sledge has played quarterback his entire football career since he was just 6 years old. ̈ ̈[I couldn’t switch because I’m not ready for that, ̈ said Sledge.  

Senior defensive back Myles Dorn (1) and junior linebacker Chazz Surratt (21) tackle Duke’s Jalon Calhoun (5)
Oct. 26, 2019.
photo credit: Maya Carter/ dailytarheel.com

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