By email@example.com (Cody Estremera)
After being named to eight preseason watch lists, all eyes were on Minkah Fitzpatrick coming into the season. Just five games in, Fitzpatrick continues to draw more attention.
According to Ben Baby of The Dallas Morning News, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said that Fitzpatrick is “one of the best players in the country” and should be a Heisman Trophy candidate this year.
The New Jersey native has been a starter all three years he has been on campus, making him the leader of the secondary.
“He does everything. He’s one of the main guys for the communications, especially for us corners,” cornerback Anthony Averett said. “We communicate with the safeties. A lot of people don’t really notice what he’s doing, but he sets the edges. He does a lot of the dirty work a lot of people don’t notice, so he does pretty much everything for us.”
This year’s defense does not have the one vocal guy, like it has in past years. Leading by example, and using words when necessary has worked so far for the Crimson Tide.
“When issues are getting out of hand or somebody’s not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, multiple people will approach them and then get on them. But I don’t think that yelling at people and doing stuff like that as a teammate (works),” Fitzpatrick said. “As a coach it works because he can’t really lead by example. But as a player, I think it’s more beneficial for somebody who is doing what they’re supposed to be doing on and off the field and just letting people follow. “
However, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Fitzpatrick are the vocal leaders when needed.
“We had moments during camp where we had to say stuff and make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, keeping their mind right, and people listen because we do what we’re supposed to do,” Fitzpatrick said.
Alabama has dominated its last two games, allowing just three points. Fitzpatrick was all over the field in those two games, tying career high in pass breakups with two against Vanderbilt and setting a new career high in tackles with eight against Ole Miss. He also added one of the five sacks against Ole Miss, which was his first sack of the year.
Fitzpatrick is a jack of all trades in the defensive scheme. He normally lines up as the strong-safety, but is also used as a third corner. This has helped Fitzpatrick become one of the leaders on the defense.
Fitzpatrick is in a four-way tie for tackles on the team at 23. He has a team leading 14 solo tackles and is second in quarterback hurries and third in pass breakups.
“Having a guy like Minkah really in a game like this really helps it because there are a lot of matchup issues,” coach Nick Saban said. “When they have four or five receivers on the field, if you play five defensive backs that’s probably not enough. If you play six, maybe you match up a little bit better. But maybe you have some other issues when it comes to other things you want to defend. So when you have players like Minkah, it gives you the diversity to do some of these things. He’s very good at it because of the adaptability. He’s smart, he can learn multiple tasks with minimal reps.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports