The one that got away

Kyle Riviere
Patrick Surtain, Jr. picked Alabama over LSU. Photo courtesy of

Valentine’s Day isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Every now and then, that time of year will end with you getting your heart broken.

That was the unfortunate outcome for LSU football fans last week. They were forced to spend Wednesday morning in stunned disbelief, being haunted by the one that got away.

I was one of heartbroken.

I went into that day thinking it was a lock that Patrick Surtain, Jr., the top cornerback in the country, would be signing with the Tigers. I got to my computer and opened up my Twitter account expecting to see him donning the purple and gold.

The first headline I read was “Surtain picks Alabama over LSU.”

A defeated man, I fell back in my chair and only stared at my computer screen in wide-eyed shock. My day was ruined.

It was worse than the Brad and Jennifer breakup. It was even worse than the fall of “Brangelina.”

Ok, so I’m being a little melodramatic, but this truly was devastating for LSU football.

It hurts so much for three reasons.

One: It was such a swerve, at the expense of LSU fans.

For months upon months, recruiting experts told us that it was pretty much a done deal that Surtain was coming to LSU. They were saying things like, “I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t sign with the Tigers.”

You could see why they were so optimistic. Surtain himself was never too shy to say that LSU was the leader in the clubhouse when it came to his recruitment.

That’s why it was such a punch in the gut when Wednesday morning came around and he announced that he wouldn’t be signing with the Tigers.

I feel bad for the LSU coaching staff. Coach Ed Orgeron said that they were certain he was coming. He always said he was, until 11 p.m., the night before signing day. Just then did he call Coach O and drop the bombshell that he wouldn’t be coming to Baton Rouge.

Two: LSU really, really, really needed Surtain.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but LSU is very thin at cornerback. Yes, DBU is thin at corner.

They just lost two of their top three cornerbacks to the NFL Draft with the early departures of Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II.

Also, reserve corner Xavier Lewis left the program in the offseason, and there are still big question marks surrounding Kristian Fulton.

Fulton was suspended for the first part of 2017, and then spent the rest of the season on the sideline after having finger surgery. Orgeron said his status with the team is still “up in the air.”

Also, Saivion Smith, their top cornerback recruit in 2016 transferred after his freshman season.

Because of these departures, it was a must for the Tigers to land Surtain. He’s the kind of guy that’s talented enough to start opposite of Greedy Williams as a true freshman and flourish for three years.

He would have filled in beautifully for the absent Jackson and Toliver.

Three: Not only did he spurn LSU, but he ended up signing with Alabama.

Now, LSU will have to face him for the next three to four years. I’m sure he’ll eventually be an All-American and Thorpe Award finalist, but it’ll all be as a member of the Crimson Tide.

Oh, by the way, Saivion Smith transferred to Alabama from the junior college. So, there’s a chance a former LSU player and former LSU target will be the two starting corners when the two teams meet in 2018.

The Tigers couldn’t even sign their Surtain backup plan.

Because of having a limited amount of scholarships available, they had to hold off on going hard after Missouri cornerback Mario Goodrich. They thought Surtain was a lock.

When Surtain bailed out at 11 the night before signing day, Orgeron had to make a last-hour effort to get Goodrich, but it was too late. He had already committed to Clemson.

So, LSU’s recruiting class contains no marquee cornerbacks when they needed one the most.

Because of this, prized Baton Rouge signee Kelvin Joseph is going to be forced to transition to corner. He played safety at Scotlandville.

Orgeron said they will now go after graduate transfer cornerbacks to fill their need. Here’s to hoping they pick up one or two.

On the bright side, the Tigers did add to the offensive and defensive lines—two areas where they were very thin this past season. And they did sign two big-time receivers, including Terrace Marshall, the No. 1 receiver prospect in the nation.

Still, I can’t help but agonize over the one that got away.