We already knew that wide receiver Calvin Ridley, running back Bo Scarbrough and defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne would be leaving Alabama early, while running back Damien Harris had opted to stay. Thursday, we learned the fate of other draft-eligible Crimson Tide football players.
At what’s become an annual press conference, head coach Nick Saban confirmed that defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison will be leaving the Crimson Tide as well and declaring for the NFL draft. Fitzpatrick is a first-round lock and could be one of the first five taken in the April draft, while Harrison was given a second-round grade.
Fitzpatrick was one of 14 unanimous All-Americans for the 2017 season, and won both the Jim Thorpe and Chuck Bednarik Awards. The multi-talented junior became the third player to claim both awards in the same season, joining Michigan’s Charles Woodson and LSU’s Patrick Peterson.
He also missed the game-winning play in the national championship game because he was using the bathroom.
Harrison was a second-team All-SEC selection in his second season as a starter for the Crimson Tide.
Isaiah Buggs was not at the postseason press conference and Saban did not mention that the defensive lineman was part of the group exiting early. That seemingly means that Buggs will join Harris as draft-eligible players who will return to Tuscaloosa.
It’s not expected that the Tide will lose any additional players, although the official deadline for declaring their intentions to the NFL is Jan. 15.