Standout Alabama junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick had nervous energy Sunday. So he left his apartment and headed to the only place that felt natural to him at the moment — the UA football facility.
Upon his arrival he was surprised he wasn’t joined by more of his teammates. Only two others (Tyrell Shavers and Jared Mayden) felt the need to be there. So Fitzpatrick sat down to watch the future of his team in the hands of the 13-person College Football Playoff committee.
“I went to the locker room because I thought it was going to be a bunch of people in there, but there were only two,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it was because everybody was feeling the way I was. We were all nervous, and we didn’t want to be around each other if we didn’t get in it.”
The dramatic build-up of the announcement felt like forever, as ESPN didn’t actually announce the fourth playoff spot until approximately 35 minutes into the broadcast. The suspense ate away at Fitzpatrick.
“I was sitting down on the couch,” he said. “But once they started going one, two, three, then they had that little pause for the stats and the graphics, I started pacing and walking back and forth. And then once they showed it, I started screaming and threw my towel and started going crazy. It was fun.
“At first I was real nervous. Then I got real excited. Me and my teammates in there were screaming, jumping up and down. We said, ‘Lets get to work.’ I’m ready to face the challenge and go out there and compete.”
Not everyone felt the need for the drama, though. Senior punter J.K. Scott said he slept through the announcement only to wake up to multiple congratulatory texts.
Despite the team’s happiness, there was an overarching message UA coach Nick Saban delivered to the team. It was in line with the season’s theme: Don’t waste a failure.
“It was a negative feeling, honestly,” Fitzpatrick said. “Because our fate was in somebody else’s hands. I really didn’t like that. But afterwards I was really happy.
“(Saban) was just telling us to get ready to work. We’re excited that we’re in, we’re happy that we’re in. He told us to get ready to go back to business.”
The team begins practice Dec. 15.
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.