Why Pat Surtain II was born for this Broncos team, this town, this moment
NFL 

Jason Taylor almost didn’t believe it, at first. Little Pat? Our Little Pat? The kid who used to run around the Miami Dolphins locker room, trailing his dad? The wide-eyed kid who didn’t say much? The nice kid?

“He was quiet,” Taylor, the NFL Hall of Fame pass-rusher and Dolphins icon, recalled late last week. “He always had big eyes, taking everything in.”

Nice kids? Nice kids don’t play like that.

Nice kids don’t close like that on a wide receiver, sight unseen. Nice kids don’t reach in, with one hand, and literally just take the ball away from an opposing runner in the open field with such ease, like they were in the same backfield, meshing on the zone read.

Taylor, the six-time Pro Bowler, is a proud dad and coach now, the defensive coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. So, as the buzz picked up five years ago around South Florida that the best player in the state might also happen to the son of one of his best pals, Taylor did what any coach would do: He put on the tape.

“I think it was Pat’s junior year,” Taylor said of Pat Surtain II, the Broncos’ first-round draft pick, ex-Alabama cornerback, and former star at American Heritage (Fla.) High School. “And they were playing one of the big boys in Miami …  and he was doing people wrong.

“Like, it was just assault. He was just out there jamming people, he took guys to the sideline and threw them to the sidelines on a jam and playing press, and he was just abusing somebody.

“And it made me really go back and look at the film again. That footwork, the hands, the length jumps off the screen. You see the package and the size … I’m like, yeah, he figured it out. He figured out how good he could be. Not just how good he could be, how dominant he could be.”

***

Nice kids? Nice kids don’t shimmy like that.

As the son of three-time Pro Bowl corner Patrick Surtain, clips of Surtain II — “PS2,” a reference to the old PlayStation gaming system, is his handle of choice — are all over YouTube these days. But one of the earliest got posted 10 years ago.

It’s grainy. The camera shakes. Still, the new Broncos defender is unmistakable. You can’t miss the tall youngster in the No. 6 jersey playing tailback for the Pembroke Pines Optimist Bengals’ 100-pound team, shredding dudes. Can’t catch him, either.

Nice kids don’t shake their fellow grade-schoolers off at the line of scrimmage like that. Nice kids don’t leave their peers in the stinking dust.

“That’s one of the best things about Pat,” offered Chad Wilson, who put that video up in February 2011 and later coached young Pat as American Heritage’s defensive coordinator from 2015-17. “He doesn’t seem to get fazed. He’s kind of unflappable. He doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low.

“He’s like Mariano Rivera. If you remember him coming out of the pen, he was all business, he gets the job done. He shakes hands and moves on. That’s a real part of his (strength) at this position. Because things will go wrong, and you’ve got to just shrug them off. And he’s good at doing that.”

When you’re raised by defensive back royalty, walking in the footsteps of some of the best to play the position, nothing much fazes you. PS2’s head coaches at Plantation were his father and former NFL cornerback Mike Rumph. Wilson was a defensive back at Miami (Fla.) and Long Beach State and the father of Giants cornerback Quincy Wilson and ex-Florida corner Marco Wilson, Surtain’s former prep teammate.

The nice kid’s been playing competitively, crushing kids with quick feet and long strides, since he was 5 years old. PS2 was born for this moment. This stage.

“I saw something coming, at an early age, that I thought he’d have a chance to be special,” the elder Surtain, who won back-to-back state titles while his son was a junior and senior at American Heritage, told The Post. “Obviously, in high school is when it really took off.

“Just being around the game a long time, you know the guys who have the opportunity to play on Sundays. We knew he was going to have the opportunity to play on Sundays.”

Even though almost nobody threw at him — they knew better — while he was a prep, Surtain notched more than 30 big-time scholarship offers anyway. At a chiseled 6-foot-2, 208 pounds with 32-and-a-half-inch arms, PS2 has always been advanced for his age group, ahead of every curve.

As a youth footballer, Surtain played a grade up. At Alabama, he started 12 games for coach Nick Saban as a true freshman on a roster that marched all the way to the College Football Playoffs’ national title game.

Since 2016, over the last five autumns, PS2’s teams have lost, combined, all of three contests — and two of those came at Bama in 2019. The AFC West, and the Broncos’ current spot within the divisional pecking order, is one heck of a long way from Tuscaloosa.

“If there is one question mark, it would be that,” Wilson said. “He just always won in the leagues he played in. In youth (leagues), they were the best team in the league. He goes to high school, it’s the best high school. And you enter college, and Bama was awfully good when he was there.

“You’re in the NFL now. You could lose eight games in a season. Or if things go really south, you could lose more games in a season than you probably did in your entire life. How will he handle that? I’m sure he feels a certain amount of pressure — I saw people talking about (Jerry) Jeudy’s drops and so on and so on. What Pat has, is just a really good support system. Mom and Dad and family, whatever he goes through, that’ll (help) make all the difference.”

***

Nice kids? Nice kids don’t panic.

Surtain grew up in NFL locker rooms, watching his dad and his dad’s teammates grind through thick and thin. Training camps used to be his playgrounds and summer schools. In a few months, they’ll be his office and easel.

“It’s weird to call him ‘Little Pat’ because he’s so freaking big,” Taylor laughed. “He was always one of those kids that just sat there and took everything in. You’d say something to him or playfully kind of knock him down, he would always be smiling. A ‘Yes-sir-no-sir’ kind of kid.

“Even when he was a bad (expletive) in high school, he still always carried himself with that grace and humility. He always had that quiet confidence.

“It’s funny. I played for 15 years in the NFL, 13 of those in Miami. So I’m a Dolphins fan. But as you get further away from the game, especially as you have kids that you coach and kids that you know, you become an NFL fan in another way. So I’ll be a Denver Broncos fan as well.”

When asked on Friday to cite his football mentors, the gurus besides his father who’d shaped his life, PS2 dropped a who’s who of former NFL greats. Taylor. Ty Law. Sam Madison, his dad’s old cornerback partner in Miami and now an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs.

“For him to end up in my division, I’m like, I’m not very happy about that,” Madison responded with a chuckle.

“But I am happy for him. I’ll get to see him and his dad a lot more often than I have the last couple of years.”

You know it. Their Little Pat is ours now. Only he’s not so little anymore. And the nice kid didn’t come here to finish last.

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