Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick not surprised by Kirby Smart’s quick success at Georgia

Kirby Smart
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA – Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is well-acquainted with Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

He was recruited to Alabama by Smart, who was the Tide’s defensive coordinator at the time, and he starred for Smart and Alabama as a true freshman in 2015. He’s not surprised his former coordinator is doing so well.

“I knew once he went there that he was going to coach with passion,” Fitzpatrick said at a media availability at the College Football Awards show. “This is his alma mater and he’s going to coach with that fire that he’s always had. He’s a real good recruiter, so he’s going to get talent. He’s in Georgia, so he’s going to get talent in the Southeast. I wasn’t surprised at all. He’s a really good coach and is deserving of all the success he’s having.”

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It’s possible Fitzpatrick and Smart – and their teams – will play later this season. Alabama and Georgia are in the College Football Playoff, with the Tide meeting Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and the Bulldogs taking on Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Fitzpatrick is focusing on the Tide’s semifinal game with Clemson. That said, he would love to see Smart on the other sideline in Atlanta.

“You think about that type of thing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it would be pretty cool if that happens. I think the last time that happened (schools from the same league playing for the title) was us and LSU? Back in 2011? I think that would be pretty cool.”

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In addition to having respect for Smart, Fitzpatrick also is a fan of Bulldogs defensive coordinator Mel Tucker; Tucker was Alabama’s secondary during Fitzpatrick’s freshman season.

Fitzpatrick also thinks highly of Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. It’s fitting to Fitzpatrick that Smith won the Butkus Award because Smith reminds him of a former teammate who won the Butkus in 2016.

“He actually reminds me of Reuben Foster,” Fitzpatrick said. “He just plays with fire. He’s flying around, making calls and plays. He’s a great player.”

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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