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Alabama All-American dealing with injury heading into national championship game

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For all of the talent and success that Alabama has had this season, the Crimson Tide boast just one All-American player.

Junior safety Minkah Fitzpatrick claimed the honors for the second year in a row and was even a unanimous selection this time around.

But Fitzpatrick will also enter the College Football Playoff national championship game less than 100 percent, as he revealed that he injured one of his kidneys in the Sugar Bowl last Monday.

Well, Fitzpatrick didn’t reveal the injury; someone on Twitter revealed it by posting a video of him leaving a hospital the day after the game. When he spoke Saturday at Alabama’s media day, Fitzpatrick said his mother was none too pleased that his privacy was violated.


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“Somebody tweeted out something that they weren’t supposed to tweet out regarding my health,” he said. “There are laws that say you aren’t supposed to do that, and she was pretty angry about that, but I’m good. I’m good and the team is good, so it’s all right.”

He said he was injured when someone fell on his back while he was making a tackle in the game. He played through pain for the rest of the game and missed some practices early in the week before returning to the field Thursday.

Fitzpatrick ended any speculation that the injury will keep him out of Monday’s championship game.

“I’m good,” he said. “I’m playing in the game. No doubt I’m playing in the game.”

Playing in the national championship game is all Fitzpatrick knows, as Alabama has reached the title game in all three of his years at the school. He recorded four tackles in each of the past two championship games as the Crimson Tide split with Clemson.

Fitzpatrick ranks second on the team in solo tackles and pass deflections this season. He also ranks third on the team in tackles for a loss, which is impressive for a safety/nickelback.

Injuries are nothing new for the Tide this season as their defense has been decimated since the opening game. In that win over Florida State, four different linebackers suffered injuries, which would become a recurring theme all season.

Alabama has 17 linebackers on its roster, but just one played in all 13 of the team’s games. The latest injury came during the Sugar Bowl when Anfernee Jennings suffered a knee injury that required surgery.

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Jennings was one of the best players on the field against Clemson as he had three tackles for loss and one sack. The Tide also lost a player on offense as lineman Lester Cotton suffered a knee injury that will keep him out of the championship game.

But arguably Alabama’s best player will be on the field in Fitzpatrick.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart praised Fitzpatrick’s ability to play all defensive back positions, from corner to safety to nickel and everything in between.

“People don’t respect how smart you have to be to do that,” the coach said.

Smart knows firsthand just how intelligent Fitzpatrick is as he recruited him to Alabama and coached him for one season.

The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide square off at 8 p.m. Eastern time Monday at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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