by Gary Harris, WVUA Sports Director

With offers already in the bag from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Stanford, cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, NJ ranks as one of the nation’s elite prospects.

The 6-1, 190-pound Fitzpatrick has Alabama “very high” on his list.

Alabama is a great program. I like them a lot,” he says. “Coach Saban is one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game. He’s a great defensive backs coach. Coach Smart is a great defensive coordinator.

“I’ve been to the campus twice and I’m going back down there for A-Day, and I just like the overall atmosphere on campus. I really enjoy it every time I go down there.”

In high school, Fitzpatrick plays running back, receiver, cornerback and safety. According to Fitzpatrick, the Tide staff thinks he’s talented enough to play any of those positions in college. He’s projected as a corner.

“They say that I’m a very versatile player,” Fitzpatrick says. “I play more than one position. That makes me very valuable, especially going into college, because you never really know which position you’re going to end up playing. I could play offense or defense.

“I would prefer to play corner. I wouldn’t mind playing safety if that’s where I’m needed.”

Other schools that have caught Fitzpatrick’s attention include Florida State, Ohio State and South Carolina.

“Those and a few others have impressed me so far,” Fitzpatrick says. “I’ve visited all of them and they all have a lot of the same things. That’s what makes it so hard to choose between them. You could say the same things about all of them. They all have great coaches and they’re all great universities.”

What will be the key factors in Fitzpatrick’s decision?

“I think it’s going to come down to where I feel at home and where I feel I could live for three or four years,” he says. “I can play at almost any school in the country. I know they will all have great football, so it will come down to where I feel the most comfortable.”

Fitzpatrick plans to make his decision by this summer.

“I want to try to get it over with,” he says. “I think it will definitely be a final decision, because I don’t want to commit somewhere and then de-commit and have to go through the whole thing over again.

“Right now, it’s all pretty much even. I don’t have a leader.”




Several prospects were in Tuscaloosa recently to watch the Crimson Tide open spring practice. One of the biggest was Warner Robins-Northside, GA offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer. The 6-3, 327-pound Sandifer was making his third visit to Alabama. He’s also attended summer camps at UA.

“He really likes Alabama,” says Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler. “Part of that is because Kirby Smart got in on him very early. Right before Brandon’s sophomore year, Coach Smart was over here and watched him go through agility drills and was interested in him and started talking to him.

“Alabama got in on him real early, and he always has good things to say about them when he comes back from visits there.”

Sandifer says that the visit last Saturday was “pretty good.”

“I had fun. I liked it. It’s a friendly environment. There are friendly people everywhere. I like how Tuscaloosa is small town atmosphere. I like the intensity and the speed they practice with. The offensive linemen are solid and fast. They’re big guys. The one who caught my eye was number 77, Kouandjio. He looked pretty good to me.”

Sandifer met with Nick Saban, Kirby Smart and OL coach Mario Cristobal.

“It went pretty well. They seem very interested in me,” Sandifer says. “They told me to keep working hard and keep my grades up. They’re going to come by my school later this spring.

“Coach Smart told me that they like me as a guard, but that I could probably play both guard and tackle.”

Sandifer has picked up offers from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, South Carolina and Virginia. He’s also drawing attention from Auburn, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas.

“I like Alabama a lot, but I really can’t say that I have any favorites right now,” Sandifer says. “Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska and Ohio State are coming after me pretty hard, too. I’m just going to take my time and keep taking visits. I’m hearing from schools all over the country right now, so I want to see what they have to offer.”

Coach Kinsler says that Sandifer warrants all of the recruiting attention he’s getting.

“He’s a really good student,” he says. “He does a really good job in the classroom and that sort of translates out in the football field. He knows the game well. He understands blocking schemes. He’s the kind of offensive linemen that when he comes off and gets locked into a linebacker, it’s hard for them to get rid of him. He’s a really good run blocker. We’ve had a lot of success running behind him and he’s gotten a lot quicker. He’s been a really good player for us.”

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