5-star Antonio Alfano drew motivation from Minkah Fitzpatrick – 247Sports

Alabama five-star signee Antonio Alfano has long been motivated to be one of the top players in the country. The New Jersey native, who was ranked as the 247Sports No. 8 overall class of 2019 recruit and No. 1 player in his state, spoke to the CBS Sports Inside College Football crew about his journey on the way to becoming a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alfano’s interest in Alabama was partially influenced by former Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is currently in his NFL rookie season with the Miami Dolphins. Like Alfano, Fitzpatrick also played high school football in New Jersey.

“When I was in eighth grade, I watched (Fitzpatrick) play in high school,” Alfano said. “He was playing with Brandon Wimbush, who was the former starting quarterback for Notre Dame. And at the time I remember (Fitzpatrick) was committed to Alabama, and I remember him scoring like four touchdowns. I’m like, ‘This guy’s amazing.’ Like he was so fast, so strong and seeing him go to Alabama that’s like that’s what you got to be to go to Alabama. You got to be that good.

“Then I went to visit my first time at Alabama and I saw (Fitzpatrick) sitting outside (the office of Alabama coach Nick Saban), and he actually had recognized me and shared some words and asked me how I was doing and stuff like that. You know (I) kind of congratulate him on everything he’s accomplished. And he kind of wished me luck coming from Jersey. When I do hopefully get to that next level, you know we’re kind of going to share that bond from Jersey.”

Alfano picked the Crimson Tide over the Georgia Bulldogs and Penn State Nittany Lions. The defensive end was one of three 247Sports Composite five-star recruits to sign with Alabama, including running back Trey Sanders and offensive lineman Evan Neal, when the Early Signing Period kicked off on Wednesday.

Of course, we still have National Signing Day in February to go, but as it stands now, it would take a mighty effort for another program to dethrone the Tide from the No. 1 spot in the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings when the 2019 recruiting cycle officially wraps up.

Alabama signed 23 of its 26 commitments on Wednesday. The class in its entirety stands with a score of 312.24 on the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings. If you just count the recruits the program has signed, Alabama sits with a score of 307.63 – still good for the No. 1 class ranking.

“We’re really pleased with the signing today,” Saban said on Wednesday. “We were able to add 23 players to the roster. We still have a few more that may come in. We do have some additional numbers that we can take guys, so don’t do your calculations and scare off everybody that we’re recruiting for February because we do have spots left and there are good players out there that we’re very much interested in and are interested in us.”