Alabama Football’s Fitzpatrick, Payne Selected as Lombardi Award Nominees
Alabama football juniors Minkah Fitzpatrick and Da’Ron Payne were each selected as part of a 21-candidate list for the 2017 Lombardi Award, the Lombardi Foundation announced on Monday afternoon.
The Lombardi Award is presented annually to a Division I player – regardless of position – based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency. Alabama has had two winners of the award in its history, most recently Jonathan Allen a season ago and before that Cornelius Bennett in 1986.
Fitzpatrick, the winner of the Jim Thorpe and Chuck Bednarik awards in 2017, wrapped up his Crimson Tide career as one of the most distinguished defensive backs in program history. The Alabama leader in career interception returns for touchdowns, he tallied four across his three seasons including a school-record two in the 2015 matchup at Texas A&M. This season, Fitzpatrick finished with 60 tackles, eight of which went for loss (-31 yards), while contributing 1.5 sacks (-15 yards), eight pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, one interception, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
The Crimson Tide’s Defensive MVP at the Allstate Sugar Bowl and in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Payne played a key role in helping Alabama claim its NCAA-record 17th national championship. He recorded an interception and caught a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl to help Alabama advance past top-ranked Clemson to the CFP National Championship Game. Payne then went on to record six tackles and spent the night in the Georgia backfield, as the Crimson Tide took down the Bulldogs, 26-23, in an overtime thriller. The Birmingham, Ala., native finished 2017 with 53 tackles, including one sack (-7 yards), and registered a team-high eight quarterback hurries while adding three pass breakups, one fumble recovery and an interception to his season totals.
Up to seven finalists for the Lombardi will be selected by the award voters later this week and announced on Monday, Jan. 22. Four of the finalists will then be invited to the Lombardi Honors presentation on Saturday, Jan. 27, in Houston, Texas, at Lone Star College.