2021 NFL Draft: 3 local stars await professional football futures starting on Thursday
By Richard Walker
Three of the most accomplished athletes in North Carolina high school history are among several in-state products who hope to hear their names called this week on the 2021 NFL Draft.
Former East Lincoln High star Chazz Surratt, his younger brother Sage Surratt who played at East Lincoln and Lincolnton high schools and former Crest star Tre Harbison are among 16 former North Carolina high school products who are hopeful of being drafted or signed to NFL contracts.
The draft is being held in Cleveland, Ohio, with the first round starting on Thursday at 8 p.m., the second and third rounds starting Friday at 7 p.m. and the third through seventh rounds begin at noon on Saturday.
Other North Carolina prep products considered draft prospects include Dyami Brown of West Mecklenburg, Divine Deablo of Mount Tabor, Landon Dickerson of South Caldwell, Caleb Farley of Maiden, Mark Gilbert of Fayetteville Terry Sanford, Mac McCain of Greensboro Dudley, Alim McNeill of Raleigh Sanderson, Hamsah Nasrildeen of Concord, Jamie Newman of Graham, Cornell Powell of Greenville Rose, Blake Proehl of Charlotte Providence, Larry Roundtree of Raleigh Millbrook and Javonte Williams of Wallace-Rose Hill.
Farley, a cornerback who played at Virginia Tech, is considered the most likely first round draft picks from North Carolina, which had 60 high school alumni on NFL rosters in the 2020 season.
The Surratts are expected to become the third and fourth Lincoln County products to ever be drafted. They’ll join a pair of 1960s Lincolnton High stars; Dennis Byrd was a first round pick in 1967 by the Boston Patriots and Bobby Joe Easter was an eighth round pick in 1976 by the Buffalo Bills.
Chazz, a two-sport star at East Lincoln, became a top draft prospect after switching from quarterback to linebacker at the University of North Carolina. The Parade magazine national player of the year in 2015 when he set state records for total yardage (16,593) and touchdown responsibility (229), struggled with injuries as Tar Heels’ quarterback before becoming a two-time All-ACC linebacker the previous two seasons.
Sage, also a two-sport star, is the only player in history to win Associated Press football and basketball player of the year during his senior year of 2016-17 at Lincolnton. He set state records for career receptions (366), yards (5,926) and touchdown catches (80) before earning All-ACC honors at Wake Forest.
Harbison hopes to become the 11th Cleveland County product to be drafted.
A two-time state champion at Crest where he set Cleveland County records for career rushing yards (5,770) and points (650), Harbison played three seasons at Northern Illinois (earning All-Mid-American Conference honors twice) before playing for the Charlotte 49ers as a graduate transfer last fall.
Other previous Cleveland County NFL draft selections have been Shelby’s George Watts (17th round Washington 1942), Kings Mountain’s Pride Ratterree (19th round Chicago Cardinals), Cleveland Training School’s Bobby Bell of Cleveland Training School (2nd round Minnesota Vikings), Cleveland Training School’s Mel Phillips (5th round San Francisco 49ers), Kings Mountain’s Tracy Johnson (10th round Houston Oilers 1989), Kings Mountain’s Calvin Stephens (3rd round New England Patriots 1991), Shelby’s Robert Williams (5th round Kansas City Chiefs 1998), Burns’ Tony Scott (6th round New York Jets 2000), Crest’s Brandon Spikes (2nd round New England Patriots 2010) and Crest’s Jonathan Bullard (3rd round Chicago Bears 2016).
Farley was Southern District 7 2A Conference offensive player of the year as a quarterback at Maiden during Sage Surratt’s senior year at Lincolnton.
And Gilbert was the MVP of the 2015 N.C. 3A basketball championship game when Terry Sanford edged Ashbrook at Carmichael Auditorium at the University of North Carolina.