In the last two recruiting classes, Alabama has stockpiled four of the highest-rated cornerback prospects in the country. Now it looks like the youngest of the group, Minkah Fitzpatrick, has earned himself quite a bit of playing time as a true freshman.

At this point, it looks as though one freshman — whether it be Fitzpatrick or redshirt freshmen Marlon Humphrey or Tony Brown — will be on the first team opposite senior Cyrus Jones. Brown was listed as a probable starter in preseason magazines based on spring practice and according to practice reports, Humprhey has been working out with the first string recently.

But Fitzpatrick seems to be gaining on them fast. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, he’s been getting reps with both the first and second teams in practice and has drawn an unusual amount of high praise from Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban for a player who has yet to suit up for a game.

“Minkah’s done a really good job,” Saban told the paper. “He’s very instinctive and learns quickly, understands concepts. He’s probably going to be a guy that, if he continues to progress, could make some contributions for us this year.”

Physically, Fitzpatrick brings a lot of the same tools as both Brown and Humphrey. The three are almost identical in size — Fitzpatrick checks in at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds; Brown 6-foot-1, 192 and Humprey 6-foot-1, 192. Fitzpatrick was clocked at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash in high school and as the No. 2 cornerback in the country according to, he chose Alabama over Florida State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

Humphrey, the son of former Tide player Bobby Humphrey, was Rivals’ No. 2 cornerback in the 2014 class, while Brown, the No. 4 corner in the class, picked Bama over Arkansas and Auburn.

Apparently a fast learner, Fitzpatrick has worked out at multiple positions since the summer and if he doesn’t earn the start at corner to begin the season there is a good chance he’ll be the Tide’s primary nickel back.

“You can tell he’s focused in. … You can just tell, it shows when he’s on the field,” star linebacker Reggie Ragland said of Fitzpatrick. “You can tell he’s mature on the field, and you and tell he’s going to do what he needs to on and off the field. Most freshmen hit that wall when they first get into camp and he hasn’t hit that wall yet, and he’s still out there focused in, looking good, moving around like he’s been doing that for years.”

He might also help Alabama in an area it’s been sorely lacking. The Tide was minus-2 in turnover margin last season and put an added emphasis on takeaways. A wrestling style “Ball Out” championship belt has been awarded in practice for the player who does the best job forcing turnovers and Fitzpatrick won it during Saturday’s scrimmage.

Alabama keeps its depth chart close to the vest, but with the news that has leaked out it shouldn’t come as a huge shock if Fitzpatrick is starting by the time the Tide opens up against Wisconsin on Sept. 5.