Alabama junior Minkah Fitzpatrick did not know what position he would be playing heading into spring football. Cornerback or safety? The question was still up in the air until Fitzpatrick entered the film room one day.
“There was no conversation,” Fitzpatrick said. “There was the depth chart in our film room and it was 2-9 was at corner. That was it.”
Fitzpatrick started at both positions during his sophomore season, proving to be one of Alabama’s more versatile players. The Old Bridge, New Jersey native began the year opposite of Marlon Humphrey at cornerback, but when Eddie Jackson when down with a leg injury, the team need him to fill Jackson’s role.
Despire earning All-American honors during his sophomore year, Fitzpatrick’s move in the middle of the season was not easy on him. He still made big plays, including a big pick-six from the safety position in Alabama’s 54-16 win in the SEC Championship.
“It was pretty difficult, especially since it was in the middle of the season,” he said. “But Coach Saban, Coach Ansley and everybody else helped me out every single day. I was watching film with them, learning and making the calls in the film room. I kind of had no choice but to do it the right way, and to get it done. It was difficult, but it was good to have a little challenge.”
FItzpatrick has had a knack for finding the ball during his career at Alabama. In just two seasons at Alabama, he has returned four interceptions for touchdowns, good for a school record. Last year, he led the team in interceptions while playing corner and safety. In his freshman season, he mostly played the star, but still had an impact, returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
So, which positions give him the best opportunities to make plays on the ball? Fitzpatrick said it’s a level playing field.
“They’re equal. I’ll say more at star and corner than at safety,” he said. “Safety is more run support than it is getting to the ball, and more tackles rather than getting to the ball, but at corner and star you get more interceptions there.”
Junior receiver Calvin Ridley has seen a lot of Fitzpatrick since the two arrived on campus in 2015. The two have gone against each other multiple times in practice over the years. With Fitzpatrick’s move back to his original position, the two will be matched up even more. Ridley believes facing Fitzpatrick is a tough task, no matter what position he is at.
“I think Minkah just period. He’s a really good corner,” Ridley said. “He’s physical all over at every position. He’s really smart and that helps him a lot.”
Fitzpatrick was recruited as a cornerback. He was ranked as one of the top recruits in the nation, boasting a five-star rating. He was also ranked as the No. 5 cornerback in the 2015 class. As he continues to be one of Alabama’s key defenders, Fitzpatrick is just happy to be back at his old position.
“That’s what I came here to play, cornerback,” he said. “…Now this year I’m back where I feel most comfortable, really. Coach trusts me to be out there and if I’m doing a good job out there I’ll stay there.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports