Alabama will play Oklahoma on Saturday night in a CFP semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium. That’s the home field now for Minkah Fitzpatrick, a consensus All-American safety for the Crimson Tide’s 2017 national-championship team.
Fitzpatrick won’t be able to attend Saturday night’s Orange Bowl, though. He’ll be with the Miami Dolphins in Buffalo, where they’ll play the Bills in an NFL game on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s going to be a real good game,” Fitzpatrick said of the Alabama-Oklahoma contest. “It’s in my home stadium now, so it’s going to definitely be killing me because I know if I went to the game, I’d have a whole lot of fun. It would be exciting to be out there with a whole lot of energy. It’s a bummer I can’t go, but it is what it is. I’ve got to handle my business.”
Sunday’s game will be the finale of Fitzpatrick’s rookie season. Even though the Dolphins won’t go on to the AFC playoffs, Fitzpatrick remains eager to hit the field one more time in 2018.
“I’m excited about it,” Fitzpatrick told reporters in the Miami locker room on Thursday. “It’s a little bittersweet, but I think there’re a lot of things to be learned from this year, on and off the field. … You’ve just got to apply everything you’ve learned and move on to the next year.”
Like most Alabama fans, Fitzpatrick will have to watch Saturday night’s game on TV. And like many Crimson Tide fans, he can get antsy while Alabama plays.
“I’m telling you, every time I watch a Bama game on TV this year, I can’t sit still and just enjoy the game,” Fitzpatrick said in a letter to the current Crimson Tide team written for the Players’ Tribune. “I’m pacing back and forth, making reads and calling out adjustments. I can’t help it. I’m still in love with the atmosphere of Bama game day, and I don’t think that will ever change.”
Fitzpatrick heads into his final game of 2018 after making 78 tackles, intercepting two passes and breaking up nine more in 15 games, including 10 starts, for the Dolphins. One of his interceptions went back for a touchdown.
When his rookie season concludes with the end of Sunday’s game, Fitzpatrick will have played more defensive snaps than all but two of Miami’s players in 2018.
Fitzpatrick played his final Hard Rock Stadium game for the season on Sunday. The Dolphins had Fitzpatrick wired for sound during the 17-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and shared with fans what the defensive back said during “another day at the office.”
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.