- Craig Haubert, ESPN Staff Writer
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Alabama has a new top recruit for the 2015 class in Under Armour All-American cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick. Read below to see our analysis of the Crimson Tide's big pickup:
What he brings: The No. 4 corner in the country has an impressive blend of size, speed and athleticism as well as great instincts and football intelligence. Fitzpatrick can play both man and zone schemes effectively and wins most one-on-one battles out on the perimeter with his length, recovery speed and awareness when the ball is in the air. He anticipates and closes as fast as any in this class, and his savvy and overall understanding of the position was likely a trait Alabama coveted.
How he fits: The Tide like big corners with speed, and they landed one in Fitzpatrick. Nick Saban and Co. also value perimeter defenders who know the nuances of the position and are proficient in varied alignments and coverages, and Fitzpatrick excels with the mental aspect of the game.
Prediction for performance: It's not easy to step right in and play corner for the Tide with their sophisticated coverage system, but we expect Fitzpatrick to play sooner rather than later as he is entering Tuscaloosa ahead of the curve when it comes to an understanding of coverages. Physically, he should be ready as well.
Who he reminds us off: Champ Bailey, New Orleans Saints. Bailey is a future Hall of Famer due to great physical tools but also with what he brings to game above the shoulders. Fitzpatrick has size, speed and range to match up with prototypical receivers one-on-one but also a savvy understanding of where to position himself on the field to make plays.
How the class is shaping up: The Tide have controlled the class rankings since Saban’s arrival, and it looks like 2015 will be no different. Alabama is looking to capture its fourth straight top national ranking with a great start to this class. The Tide claimed the top class in our first rankings released last week and solidified it with a big day that saw commitments from two top-50 overall defensive players in linebacker Leo Lewis and Fitzpatrick.