One of the more underrated stars of the 2019 college football season in the ACC was Wake Forest wide receiver, Sage Surratt. With quarterback Jamie Newman at the helm, the redshirt sophomore burst onto the scene to post over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in just nine games. Despite the shoulder injury, his production was good enough to land him on the first team All-ACC list and be named a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver.
But, Newman has left the Wake Forest program as a graduate transfer to the University of Georgia. Wake Forest will now be led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman. With Newman at the helm last season, Surratt could have entered the 2020 NFL Draft and likely been a late day two or early day three selection. How does Hartman taking over impact Surratt’s 2021 NFL Draft stock?
Who is Sam Hartman?
Before we get into the effect Hartman may have on Surratt and his 2021 draft stock, let’s take a look at who he is. Hartman came into Wake Forest and won the starting job as a true freshman. Hartman started the first nine games of his freshman year and came out of the gates with record-setting numbers in those games. Among the school records Hartman set for a true freshman were the most 200 and 300-yard games, most touchdowns, and most total yards.
Hartman lost his job to Newman only after breaking his leg in the ninth game of his freshman season. From there, the Newman-to-Surratt connection was established and blossomed. But make no mistake about it, Hartman was the guy from the beginning, and there’s a lot to like about his game.
The Newman-to-Surratt Connection
A large portion of the credit for Newman’s rise to prominence has to go to his redshirt sophomore star receiver Surratt. He has been an explosive play-maker for the Demon Deacons, averaging over 14 yards per reception in each of his first two active seasons with the team. Surratt is effective on the outside, using his quickness and speed to get over the top of the cornerbacks attempting to guard him.
He’s also adept at coming down with the ball in contested catch situations. At 6’3″ and 215 pounds, Surratt is the kind of receiver you can trust to just put the ball up for and know that he’ll come down with it more often than not. Surratt has nice leaping ability, very strong hands, and is in control of his body along the sidelines to come down with the circus catch from time to time.
Surratt could have easily declared for the 2020 NFL Draft after the numbers he put up with Newman at the helm. But in this star-studded wide receiver class, he likely would have gotten lost in the shuffle and fallen to day three. With Newman gone and Hartman back in the fold, the big question is how that move impacts the 2021 draft stock for Surratt.
Sage Surratt and his 2021 NFL Draft Stock
I wholeheartedly believe the answer to that question is “not much.” If anything, it might actually improve the 2021 draft stock for Surratt. In the limited time the two have had together on the field, Surratt has been a favorite target for Hartman. One needs to only look at the numbers put up during the one full game the two had together last season – against Florida State – to see the connection these two have.
Hartman, playing in place of an injured Newman, threw the ball 38 times against the Seminoles, completing 21 of his passes for 308 yards. Surratt was clearly his favorite target that day, as he was targeted on 13 of those passes, coming down with seven receptions for 170 yards, his second-highest total on the season. Surratt’s highest total of the year came the previous week against Louisville, where he came away with 196 yards and three touchdowns. It was a game where Hartman also saw some action.
Clearly, the two have been able to foster a connection in limited amounts of time together. It is a connection that should bode well for next season, and one that should mean good things for Surratt and his 2021 draft stock.
The End Result
So what does all this mean for Sage Surratt and his draft stock heading into the 2021 NFL Draft? If anything, I see his draft stock improving over what it would have been, had he entered the 2020 NFL Draft. The 2020 class of wide receivers may be historically good, so Surratt avoiding getting lost in that shuffle is going to turn out well for him.
But more than just avoiding a historic wide receiver class, the ability to put up numbers with multiple quarterbacks is going to play well with the NFL crowd. The connection he’s built with Hartman is only going to serve to further improve that stock if 2019’s limited sample size is any indication.
As it stands right now, I like Surratt to wind up as a late second-to-mid third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, the class that he’s going to be up against in 2021, while not quite the level of the previous class, is no slouch. He’s going to have his work cut out for him to make a name for himself in this class. But the new quarterback doesn’t spell doom and gloom like many may think.