DALLAS (FWAA) – Minkah Fitzpatrick lived up to his billing as one of the nation’s most versatile defenders in top-ranked Alabama’s 27-19 win at Texas A&M. Lining up at four defensive positions in the secondary and linebacker, plus playing on special teams, Fitzpatrick totaled five tackles, two for loss, and grabbed a key interception with his back to the end zone and forced a fumble. His performance helped the Crimson Tide stay undefeated and earned him the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for the week of Oct. 7.
Fitzpatrick, a 6-1, 202-pound junior from Old Bridge, N.J., lined up at his usual strong safety position, but also played cornerback, nickel corner and the Crimson Tide’s money (dime linebacker) position against Texas A&M. His interception thwarted a Texas A&M drive at the Alabama one-yard line, and he spearheaded an Alabama defense that held Texas A&M to 19 points – their season low – and 143 yards below their season average. His forced fumble came while playing on kickoff coverage, and he recovered an onside kick to seal the win.
For the season, Fitzpatrick is tied for third on the team in total tackles with 28, 17 of them solo, and he leads the Crimson Tide in tackles for loss with 4.5 that includes 21 yards lost. He has four pass breakups, tops on the team, and the interception.
Fitzpatrick’s play embellishes his credentials as a Bronko Nagurski Trophy candidate from its preseason watch list. The junior was a previous Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week winner in 2015, when as a freshman he became the only player in Alabama history (in records they have back to 1948) to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game, which also came at Texas A&M.
Each Tuesday during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Wed., Nov. 15. The winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2017 FWAA All-America Team.
The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists. The committee members then select the winner as the best defensive player in college football.
The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Mon., Dec. 4 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway.
The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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