Prior to officially signing with Alabama as part of the 2015 recruiting class, junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick was flirting with the idea of becoming a Seminole.

Recruited out of Jersey City, N.J., Fitzpatrick was a five-star player and his decision basically consisted of a choice between Alabama and Florida State.

“I can’t say how close I was, but I was pretty close,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’ve got great coaches, Coach (Jimbo) Fisher, Coach (Charles) Kelly, he’s the defensive coordinator, I got real close with him and it’s just a great defense obviously,” Fitzpatrick said.

It was the personalities of Saban and Fisher that made the Crimson Tide and Seminoles his two finalists.

“They come from the same coaching family, I guess you could say, and they have similarities,” Fitzpatrick said.

During the recruiting camp circuit, Fitzpatrick got to know Derwin James, now a standout safety for the Seminoles.

“We played on the same 7-on-7 team at the Opening our senior year,” Fitzpatrick said. “I got to know him a little bit. He tried to recruit me to Florida State a little bit. I tried to get him to Alabama.”

Great competitor

During fall practice, Saban described Fitzpatrick as a “phenomenal” competitor.

“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. 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 [expletive]. He doesn’t do that. He works every day to get better. 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 and we’re excited to be able to utilize him in a lot of different ways.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.