Ex-Tide star Fitzpatrick named small college athlete of year
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Minkah Fitzpatrick finished his Alabama career as one of the most decorated players in program history. He added one more honor this week when he was named the state’s Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
“It’s an honor,” Fitzpatrick said. “I appreciate the sports writers of Alabama naming me the Amateur Athlete of the Year in Alabama. It’s an honor and a blessing. I always love my family at Alabama and I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”
Fitzpatrick won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player and the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back in 2017, becoming just the third player ever to win both honors in the same season. He joined Michigan’s Charles Woodson (1997) and LSU’s Patrick Peterson (2010) in that distinction.
He was voted as a permanent team captain by his teammates and was a unanimous All-American this season. Fitzpatrick was also a first-team All-Southeastern Conference choice by both the league coaches and media. He was honored as the Crimson Tide’s most valuable player at the team’s year-end awards banquet.
The Miami Dolphins chose him with the 11th overall pick in April.
“Minkah did it as well as anybody I’ve ever coached, and we could not be happier for every accolade he has received,” coach Nick Saban said. “He paid attention to every detail in all aspects of the game. He put in the time in the classroom, weight room, film room, on the practice field and in the community to be the best and it showed in everything he did.”
He finished the 2017 season with 38 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also had one interception, eight passes broken up and one blocked field goal. He played every position in the Alabama secondary. He also holds the all-time school record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns.
This is the second consecutive year an Alabama defensive player has been named Amateur Athlete of the Year. Former UA defensive lineman Jonathan Allen won it in 2016.