Alabama football: Mastering the process, Minkah Fitzpatrick has become a star with Crimson Tide

Ralph D. Russo | The Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — On those scorching hot late summer days when football practice is harder than usual at Alabama, a kid from New Jersey is usually the player least bothered.

If Minkah Fitzpatrick has learned anything in his young life it is that complaining about a difficult situation accomplishes nothing.

“You just can’t let the environment affect you,” Fitzpatrick said. “You have to try to affect the environment.”

The All-America defensive back has been affecting the environment plenty for the top-ranked Crimson Tide since coming to Tuscaloosa three years ago from the central New Jersey town of Old Bridge. Goal-oriented since he was six and matured beyond his years by flooding that left his family homeless as he started high school, Fitzpatrick has mastered Nick Saban’s process. Fitzpatrick sees the game like a coach — like his coach — leads by example and has become maybe the most versatile defensive player to ever play for Saban’s Alabama dynasty.

“We have six different positions in the secondary and he’s played every one of them,” Saban said. “I don’t ever remember having anybody that’s played all the roles he’s played here and done it as well as he’s done it.”

None of Fitzpatrick’s success is particularly surprising to those closest to him. The 6-1, 202-pound junior has been striving for greatness since he was little. Melissa Fitzpatrick, Minkah’s mother, remembers a trip to Disney World for her oldest daughter’s cheerleading competition, and then 6-year-old Minkah telling her that he would be back in Florida someday playing for a national championship with his Pop Warner football team.

RELATED: Alabama riding a remarkable 550-play turnover-free streak

A few years later, Fitzpatrick’s team did just that. And when his 10- and…

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