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Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama defense lead Crimson Tide back to championship game

For the third year in a row, the Alabama Crimson Tide will play for the national championship.

Alabama upset the top-ranked Clemson Tigers, 24-6, in the Sugar Bowl semifinal behind an impressive defensive performance. The Tide held Clemson to just 188 yards and forced two turnovers.

The biggest play came in the third quarter when Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant’s pass was deflected and intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson.

Another stalwart on Alabama’s defense is Minkah Fitzpatrick. The junior safety had three tackles and a pass breakup on the day. This season, Fitzpatrick won the Jim Thorpe Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award and was named a first-team All American.

Fitzpatrick is also strong in his faith in Christ. According to Sports Illustrated, he leads a two-hour Bible study every other Monday and has a message tattooed on his wrist that says: “Take up your cross and follow me.”  The verse is a reference to Matthew 16:24, which reads “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'” (NIV).

Earlier in the season, he wanted to wear John 16:33 on one of his wristbands but was forced to take it off since the NCAA no longer allows players to wear Bible verses on their wristbands.

Fitzpatrick’s leadership carries over to his works off the field. Along with mentoring youth and reading to children in the Tuscaloosa area, he also spent spring break with a group of Alabama student-athletes, as part of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes mission trip in Costa Rica. The work led Fitzpatrick to being named to the 2017 SEC Football Community Service Team.

Minkah Fitzpatrick will try to lead Alabama to its fifth national championship since 2009 against the Georgia Bulldogs on Monday Night in College Football’s national title game.