Fitzpatrick is Alabama’s Next Superstar on Defense
By BJ Bennett
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Minkah Fitzpatrick is well-established as one of the very best players in the country.
Year in and year out, Alabama boasts one of college football top's defenses; remarkably, the Crimson Tide have ranked in the national top five in eight of the last nine seasons, leading the nation in total defense in 2011, 2012 and 2016. Aggressive, attacking defensive play is the defining trait of the Nick Saban brand. Minus the likes of Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and Tim Williams, among others, versatile Minkah Fitzpatrick is poised to become the program's next veteran superstar.
A rising junior who was a multi-outlet All-American a year ago, Fitzpatrick should be a fixture on every pre-season list this summer. Alabama will open spring practice on March 21st with the luxury of having a playmaker like Fitzpatrick who can play multiple positions in the secondary. He earned national recognition with 13 passes defended, winning a national championship as a freshman cornerback. Last fall, he moved to strong safety once Eddie Jackson went down with injury and finished the season with an SEC-best six interceptions.
Fitzpatrick is a playmaker in the purest sense. His instincts may be his biggest strength as the New Jersey-native plays with the awareness and confidence to make quick reads and immediate adjustments. Already, Fitzpatrick holds the Crimson Tide career mark with four interceptions returned for touchdowns, a record 100-yard pick-six and three interceptions in one game. He is well-established as one of the very best players in the country.
At 6'1'', 203 pounds, with great ball skills and fluid, smooth movements, Fitzpatrick is the absolute prototype in coverage. He, in some ways, resembles current Jacksonville Jaguars standout Jalen Ramsey, who played both corner and safety at Florida State and was the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. From winning titles to switching positions, the similarly-sized talents seem to have a lot in common. An early WalterFootball.com mock draft for 2018 has Fitzpatrick being selected ninth.
Dynamic and determined, Fitzpatrick moves into a clear leadership role for the likely pre-season number one team in the country. The standard of excellence at Alabama is a special tradition and is one that Fitzpatrick is ready to continue.