Minkah Fitzpatrick Explains Onside Kickoff Return and Nick Saban’s Reaction
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It might have seemed harmless at the time, but Minkah Fitzpatrick’s 39-yard return on Texas A&M’s onside kick caught the attention of head coach Nick Saban.
With only 17 seconds remaining and Alabama up by eight points, Fitzpatrick fielded an onside kick. But instead of taking a knee, he took the ball up the right side before eventually running out of bounds at the 12-yard line.
Here’s how he remembers the play: “When I first caught the ball, I’d seen two Texas A&M players coming free so they were about to hit me. So I wasn’t going to take a knee right there. And I had thought about just running and taking it a couple steps to the right, then taking a knee. Then when I ran, I’d seen the whole right side of the field was wide open so I just took my chance. You know, it was just instincts.”
Fitzpatrick explained that his defensive mindset is to always score when he gets the ball, but that situation was different and his coach let him know.
“He was yelling at me just telling me to take a knee,” Fitzpatrick said about Saban. “I should have taken a knee for sure, but like I said, it was just instincts.”
When he came off the field, the two had a ‘conversation.’
“I told him it was just instincts. He said he didn’t care, but..”
Fitzpatrick ended up earning the SEC co-defensive player of the week honors for his performance.