UNC’s Surratt on move to defense: ‘You gotta play angry at linebacker’
About two years ago, when Chazz Surratt was a sophomore at North Carolina and his brother Sage was a freshman at Wake Forest, the two went to a YMCA in Belmont to play a basketball shooting game.
The game ended as it usually does — with one brother losing, and the other challenging the winner to a game of one-on-one. On this particular day, Sage won, although neither can come to a consensus on the score.
Regardless, Chazz didn’t want to leave the court without getting the better of the brother who is just 14 months younger.
“I was up 3-2 and he ended up coming back, so I was hot about it,” Chazz Surratt, 22, admitted in an interview with The News & Observer on Tuesday.
So when they began their game of one-on-one, it quickly got physical.
“That’s how it usually goes,” Chazz said. “Whoever is losing, it turns into football and it doesn’t end.”
The brothers — including Ethan Kincaid, 28, the oldest — have always been highly competitive with each other, whether playing out in the yard, at the YMCA or in chess.
“If Sage lost, he would cry,” Chazz said with a smile. “If I lost, I would throw the board.”
That competitiveness will likely come to the forefront on Friday when North Carolina and Wake Forest play in a rare non-conference game. Chazz, a junior, will play linebacker for UNC, and Sage, a redshirt sophomore, will play wide receiver for Wake Forest.
For UNC and Wake, the winner will have in-state bragging rights with the winner improving to 3-0.
For the Surratt brothers from Denver, the winner will have household bragging rights for years to come.
Surratt brothers dominate together
Competitiveness runs in the Surratt family. Chazz and Sage’s father, Kevin, was the youngest of four. Two older brothers and an older sister made him competitive, and he said that likely rubbed off on his sons.
But it also helped them.
“(Chazz) pushed me to be better,” Sage, 21, said Tuesday in a phone interview with The News & Observer.
Growing up, when Sage and Chazz weren’t pushing each other, they were wreaking havoc together on their opponents. From Pop Warner to East Lincoln High School football and basketball, they were always teammates.
They played three years together at East Lincoln, where Chazz threw 99 total touchdowns passes during his junior and senior seasons. Sage caught 41 of them.
In 2015, when Chazz was a senior and Sage was a junior, East Lincoln football finished 14-1 and the basketball team finished 28-1. In 2014, the football team went 16-0 and the basketball team went 24-1.
‘Don’t hurt my baby’
Three years ago, when Sage committed to Wake Forest, the Surratt family knew the two brothers would eventually play against one another. However, Chazz, a former UNC quarterback, and Sage, a wide receiver, thought they’d be watching each other from the sidelines.
But Chazz converted from quarterback to linebacker after the 2018 season. Since making the switch, the 6-3, 230-pound inside linebacker has earned significant minutes in the Tar Heels’ rotation. He had a team-high 12 tackles and a sack against South Carolina on Aug. 31 and had five tackles last Saturday against Miami.
Sage, who is 6-3, 215 pounds, is Wake Forest’s second-leading receiver. He has 13 receptions, 203 receiving yards and two touchdowns through two games this season.
“They’re both really good players,” UNC defensive coordinator Jay Bateman told reporters on Monday. “I asked his mom and dad after the South Carolina game if they planned on having any other ones.
“We’d like to offer that one a scholarship too.”
As the 2019 season drew closer, the idea that one brother could tackle the other became more of a reality — especially after Chazz told to the local media Tuesday, “I’m going to try and lay him out.”
Sage responded to Chazz’s statement on Twitter with: “Fasho,” and the ‘OK’ emoji.
However, their mother, Brandi Surratt, didn’t like it.
She soon texted Chazz, “don’t hurt my baby.”
Brandi says she’s nervous about Friday’s game. She knows one son will win and the other will lose. Kevin, a former defensive back at Winston-Salem State, said he doesn’t know how to feel. He just hopes the game will be a good one.
“I just want everybody to get out of the game healthy,” Kevin Surratt told the N&O in a phone interview on Tuesday, adding that he’ll likely wear a WSSU jersey to the game since he’s not taking sides.
When Sage was asked if he plans to try to run through Chazz or run past him, he said it depends on the situation. Regardless, he said he doesn’t plan on letting his older brother tackle him.
If Chazz does tackle him, Sage said, he’ll probably remind him about it for the rest of his life.
UNC at Wake Forest
When: 6 p.m., Friday
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem
Listen: WTKK-106.1 Raleigh; WCHL-97.9, WCHL-1360 Chapel Hill; WBT-99.3, WBT-1110 Charlotte