How Nick Saban feels about Miami Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama holds the trophy while celebrating with his team after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs to win the CFP National Championship (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Nick Saban’s Miami Dolphins tenure didn’t exactly work out the way anyone would have liked, but he is arguably the greatest coach in college football history and he is a straight-shooter with NFL officials when it comes to his prospects.

Thus it is no surprise that Miami coach Adam Gase enjoys sharing a story or two about his time working for Saban at Michigan State and LSU. Or that executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum was huddled with Saban at this year’s Senior Bowl.

Did Kenyan Drake come up? Perhaps. Did Minkah Fitzpatrick? Seems likely.

The Dolphins selected Fitzpatrick because it’s easy to see his unique talent on film. But also because Saban clearly endorses every intangible aspect of Fitzpatrick’s fiber. Saban really likes Fitzpatrick the player and really, really likes Fitzpatrick the person.

Let’s take a look at some of the things Saban has said about Fitzpatrick over the years:

On Fitzpatrick’s versatility as a corner and a safety:

“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.” (Associated Press/September, 2017)

On Fitzpatrick’s psychological makeup:

“Does he think about football the way I would like a player to think about football? Absolutely, because he’s not a guy who’s trying to memorize what he does,” Saban said. “We like, I like, conceptual learners. Guys that understand the concept of what you’re doing and then they can apply those concepts to things that happen.” (Associated Press/September, 2017)

On Fitzpatrick’s strengths off the field:

“He’s very conscientious, pays attention to detail, very disciplined, understands the importance of preparation. He’s not one of these guys that just thinks he can go out there and make plays without doing things the right way. He sets a great example in terms of his work ethic and how he practices and what he does every day. So there’s not a lot of things that you can say that Minkah doesn’t do exactly like you would want him to do as a coach and what you try to get all of your players to do.” (Montgomery Advertiser/January, 2018)

On Fitzpatrick contributing as a freshman:

“He played when he was a freshman, and has played in almost every game since he’s been here,” Saban said. “We had high expectations for what he would be able to accomplish and what he would be able to do here. I can’t say that we’re disappointed in any area. He’s probably exceeded those expectations because of the consistency that he’s been able to play with.” (Montgomery Advertiser/January, 2018)

On Fitzpatrick’s discipline, eye control and preparation:

“I think that he ends up making plays because of it,” Saban said. “I think some of our other guys, they want to make plays, but they have to understand there has to be attention to detail, you have to look at the right things, you have to put yourself in the right position, and then you’re going to give yourself the best opportunity to make plays.” (Anniston Star/October, 2016)

On why he gave Fitzpatrick multiple position responsibilities:

“He’s very versatile and he’s bright, he’s smart, he’s very conscientious, he works hard every day,” Saban said. “So if there’s anybody who can do it, I think he’s certainly the right kind of guy to do it. That may be how we end up this year.” (Decatur Daily/August, 2016)

On why he loves Fitzpatrick so much:

“Minkah does it as well as anybody I’ve ever coached, in terms of how he works every day, how he finishes plays, his conditioning level, just phenomenal,” Saban said. “Pays attention to detail. It’s important to him. Makes sure he knows what to do.” (Anniston Star/August, 2017)

On the example Fitzpatrick set at Alabama:

“A lot of players that are good players I’ve heard them say, ‘I’m saving it for the game.’ Every one of those players, and all those teams that I’ve been on that the players say that, none of them are worth a s—,” Saban said. “He doesn’t do that. I hope we have more and more players who work like him, because when you have players that do that, you usually have a pretty good team. He sets a great example.” (Anniston Star/August, 2017)

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