Editor’s note: Alabama football returns a ton of talent, and has a great opportunity to make another run at the SEC championship and earn a College Football Playoff berth.
SEC Country will take a look at Alabama’s 25 most important players. Obviously, there will be coaches and other key members around the program who will have a big impact on the team’s success. But this list is strictly for the top-25 players for the Crimson Tide heading into 2017.
No. 3: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Minkah Fitzpatrick should be considered one of the favorites to win the Thorpe Award heading into his junior season. He is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the country.
As a true freshman, Fitzpatrick lined up at nickel defensive back (star) with Cyrus Jones and Marlon Humphrey manning the cornerback spots for its 2015 national championship team.
Last season, Fitzpatrick seamlessly made the transition to safety after Eddie Jackson broke a leg against Texas A&M.
Fitzpatrick finished fourth on the team last season with 66 tackles. He added 5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.
Fitzpatrick’s team-high 6 interceptions was tied for seventh in the country.
This spring, Fitzpatrick worked at both cornerback and safety. He’ll likely start the year at safety.
A rising junior, Fitzpatrick is one of a few Alabama underclassmen who have an opportunity to leave school early for the NFL Draft following this season. He has the versatility NFL coaches love. Fitzpatrick is a player who can line up at cornerback, nickel defensive back and safety and not lose a step.
It’s a credit to Fitzpatrick that he was able to juggle all of those positions as a sophomore.
That IQ along with his natural ability has Fitzpatrick on the verge of becoming the best defensive back during Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa.
Fitzpatrick also is a ballhawk with a nose for the end zone. In two years, Fitzpatrick has intercepted 8 passes and returned 4 for touchdowns.
Coming Thursday: A deep position group
SEC Country’s Top 25 Alabama football players:
- No. 4: Run-stuffing defensive lineman
- No. 5: Tide’s next great linebacker
- No. 6: A veteran offensive lineman
- No. 7: A lockdown corner
- No. 8: Tide’s next great offensive lineman
- No. 9: A hard-hitting safety
- No. 10: A key playmaker
- No. 11: A versatile linebacker
- No. 12: A veteran wide receiver
- No. 13: A key special teams player
- No. 14: An elite defensive lineman
- No. 15: A junior college transfer
- No. 16: A powerful offensive lineman
- No. 17: A young player changing positions
- No. 18: An experienced offensive lineman
- No. 19: A new sack artist
- No 20: A powerful linebacker
- No. 21: A young, explosive linebacker
- No. 22: An inexperienced offensive lineman
- No. 23: A veteran safety
- No. 24: Two talented freshmen
- No. 25: Tide hope he’s ‘special’