Louisville football’s top incoming receiver in a unique spot.
In 2017, Louisville football stepped onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to face off against Purdue with Mekhi Becton-sized expectations thanks to the return of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson.
Stepping onto the field that day for the first time as a collegiate football player was redshirt freshman Dez Fitzpatrick. Coming into the program with quite a bit of hype the 6’2 receiver redshirted his first season on campus giving him the time needed to get ready for the rigors of college football.
Many fans weren’t familar with Fitzpatrick at the time, but by the time the clock hit double zero’s that would no longer be the case. He’d finish that game with four catches for 95 yards and one touchdown, showing us all a glimpse of what was to come throughout that season.
Four years later, Dez is considered one of the few “elder statesman” at receiver in his last year at Louisville and will once again take the field for a team with sky-high expectations. This time, however, he’ll do it alongside his younger brother, Christian.
The time could be now for Louisville football’s Christian Fitzpatrick
Many of you are familar with Christian Fitzpatrick, who enrolled at Louisville in January following recruitment that saw him decommit from Washington State to join his brother in playing for Scott Satterfield. As a four-star receiver, the younger Fitzpatrick held offers from multiple elite-level power five programs, including Penn State and Oregon, and after strong consideration of those schools and others he couldn’t turn down playing at Louisville.
Christian now finds himself in a very similar situation as Dez did four years ago being able to contribute at a high level in his first season on campus but does so in a very unique position.
“Dez is tough on Chris. He watched his journey and knows he has a ton of physical potential. Christian’s 6’4, 212 right now, an ex-basketball player; Chris is physically gifted. For him being 6’4 he can really move. In and out of his breaks, real quick feet, really good releases and knows how to use his hands.”
But before he can have the type of performance and impact that Dez did for Louisville in 2017, Greg says “he has to learn to be a college football player.”
Thankfully for Christian, he won’t be going at this alone nor without an idea of what’s to come. For the last four years, he’s watched his older brother prepare year-round and develop into one of the best receivers of the last decade for the Cards. Able to lean on his older brother for support and guidance, Fitzpatrick went through his first spring practice and has been working endlessly to prepare for the season.
“Dez is being tough on him when it comes to preparation,” Greg said on the BRL Podcast “The games can be like clockwork. You prepare Monday through Friday for Saturday. If you practice hard and everything will be instinct and you’re adrenaline will take over. You have to practice hard. That’s what Dez is trying to preach to Christian. Those are the things that will make Christian a successful college football player if he learns all that type of stuff.”
Does that give Christian an edge for playing time? In my opinion, yes.
It’s not just that Christian has been watching Dez and preparing to play for Louisville. Enrolling early, Christian was able to go through multiple practices and team meetings before the spread of COVID-19 stopped everything.
With Seth Dawkins now preparing to compete for a roster spot with the Seattle Seahawks, it leaves a starting role wide open for the taking. Fitzpatrick will compete with redshirt junior Justin Marshall and others for the starting role and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him line up opposite his brother as a starter on opening night.
Asked about his performance, Greg said:
“He’s absorbing the playbook pretty well. He had a good spring, real physical blocking, making some catches, making some plays. When they get back for workouts, he just has to continue to compete so he can be physically ready, and being physically ready means Monday through Friday you can practice hard and then scrimmage that Saturday and then Monday start all over again.”
Receiver’s coach Gunter Brewer was extremely complimentary of Fitzpatrick saying:
“Christian did a phenomenal of really getting into the offense, figuring out what that was, learning it and made huge strides right before the spring break. I expect big things from him; he’s a large human being. He’s Dez’s little brother, but that’s a fictitious statement because he’s much larger than his brother, he’s just younger and not where his brother is maturity-wise in the game.
There’s still a lot to decipher for the coaching staff and team as they get back and go through camp getting ready for the season, and there’s no way to really tell how the depth chart will shake out. But one thing is clear. Christian Fitzpatrick will be in a place to compete for meaningful snaps on a team that should have one of the most explosive offenses in the country.
If he doesn’t see the field, well, his dad said “It’ll be his fault.”
Greg explained, “If he doesn’t take advantage of his brother being there, playing behind his brother, playing the same position, being able to absorb the playbook, being 6’4, 210 and already having a college-ready body, if he’s not ready to play shame on him.”
Greg laughingly concluded, “his ass will get redshirted.”
Big things are in the Fitzpatrick household, and that bodes well for Louisville football.