football Edit

Alabama sees Minkah Fitzpatrick in No. 1 safety Caleb Downs

The University of Alabama has developed some of the best defensive backs who currently star in the NFL. Former Alabama All-American Minkah Fitzpatrick received a four-year contract extension worth more than $73.6 million from the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, making him the highest paid safety in the league.

It's a strong recruiting tool for Alabama to use when it comes to recruiting the best players at the position throughout the country. Alabama is battling the likes of Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State for Caleb Downs, the top ranked safety in America. Each can also claim NFL talent at his position.

Downs has visited Alabama several times which includes the 2021 A-Day game. Schools were not allowed to host recruits due to COVID. Downs returned to Tuscaloosa (Saturday-Monday) for what is likely his final time in Tuscaloosa before making a decision.

He was joined by both of his parents, Gary and Tonya. It was a great experience for his family according to Downs. He felt like the visit provided plenty of answers to what he needed from Alabama before deciding if it's the best place for his future.

"The visit was good," Downs said. "I had some questions and received the answers. The questions include: what they offer off the field after football? I also wanted to know more about their system; the defense they run and how they see me.

"The one thing I learned on this trip was about the First and 10 Club that helps players after football. They told me they see me as being very versatile, playing either the star or safety spot, and then learning one before possibly moving to the other.

"They definitely mentioned Minkah (Fitzpatrick) mostly on who they compare me to. Also Brian Branch who is there now. Both are very versatile. Minkah, obviously, is having a great career because he showed what he needed to in college."

Alabama junior safety Brian Branch, who ranked as the No. 4 safety in the 2020 class and also from Georgia, was his player host. He also mentioned spending time with sophomore linebacker Dallas Turner and freshman defensive back, Earl Little Jr.

Downs enjoyed the time with the players and described it as one of the highlights of the visit. The players didn't spend much time giving Downs a 'recruiting pitch', but showed what it's like as a player for the Crimson Tide which included summer work-outs on Monday.

Downs has a strong relationship with the coaching staff: Nick Saban, Travaris Robinson, Pete Golding, Charles Kelly and Sam Petito. He mentioned a great connection with Coach Petito and with T-Rob who also recruited him during his time at Miami and South Carolina.

Downs described his relationship with T-Rob as, "full-circle" with one of his favorite coaches now recruiting him to a top contender for his signature. It was important for Downs to spend time with Nick Saban.

"What stood out the most was spending time with Coach Saban," Downs said. "I ate with him, we rode golf carts, and I rode in the car with him. Just spending time talking to him was great. He's a really good person. He talked about what it takes to be a part of the Process. You have to trust in that and you are going to be developed here."

Downs will take his fourth official visit this weekend with the Buckeyes. It’s possibly the final visit before he announces a decision.

"There isn't a leader in my mind right now," he said. “It’s all pretty even. I want to go wherever it just feels like it's the right fit for me. I want to know I will have everything I need to succeed to get where I want to be."

The top-ranked recruit in the Peach State does not claim a leader in his recruitment, but Alabama has given him plenty to consider after the weekend with the Tide.

"I just like the holistic approach that Alabama takes when it comes to the process all their players go through that leads to their success," Downs concluded.

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Order Andrew Bone's book now through Amazon. Click this photo to jump to the order page (Order Andrew Bone's book now through Amazon. Click this photo to jump to the order page)