Minkah Fitzpatrick is the Swiss Army knife of the Alabama secondary. He can do everything.
That ability serves he and the secondary well as coaches figure out if Trevon Diggs can play cornerback this season.
It’s a secondary in a bit of transition. While not unexpected, Marlon Humphrey’s departure leaves UA searching for a corner opposite Anthony Averett. It could be Diggs or Fitzpatrick, or it could be another young defensive back.
During Saturday’s scrimmage it was Diggs, and he’s slowly picking up the position after playing wide receiver in 2016.
“He’s developing into a real good corner,” safety Hootie Jones said. “Like, honestly. I didn’t expect that when he first started playing corner, but he’s developed into a real good corner. He’s starting to play big boy football, for real.”
Big boy football is one way to describe the brand of defense Alabama plays. Diggs is the type of athlete the Crimson Tide can shape into an excellent defensive back. It’s still too soon to tell, but his progress is measurable. Averett said Diggs is picking up the position faster than he did, saying he has a “knack” for it.
UA head coach Nick Saban sees it too.
”He’s much more natural playing at corner than when we tried to play him at safety,” Saban said. “That’s where he played in high school.
“(He’s) Long, he has good toughness. He’s a good tackler. Plays the ball well in the deep part of the field and did a good job of playing man-to-man. I don’t know what we’re going to do with him the rest of the spring. We’ll probably decide something after the end of this when we look at the scrimmage.”
Overall the secondary got bested during the scrimmage. Saban described it as his unit didn’t have respect for the deep part of the field. He also said it gave up too many explosive plays.
As part of a defense that isn’t accustomed to getting bested often, it was a wake-up call.
“I mean, honestly, the defense really got tore up by the quarterbacks,” Jones said. “Of course we was upset. No defense just wants to get tore up by an offense, you know what I’m saying. But we’re learning from it and that means we have to go out there and work harder.”
The corrections have already began.
“We just have to play faster, for real,” Jones said. “We were playing very lazy out there and not respecting our keys that we’ve been told to respect at all times, we just weren’t doing it.”