Fitzpatrick a Versatile Athlete

North Carolina pledge Sean Fitzpatrick is the rare breed of player who is capable of legitimately playing every position on the football field at the high school level.

"He is certainly a great athlete, with great size and athleticism," Pittsford head coach Keith Molinich said. "He catches the ball well with his hands. He's just an extraordinary athlete.

"But on top of that, what he's done in the weight room over the course of four years, the type leader he is on the field, [and] he's just an absolute warrior. He's not an athlete running around not wanting to bump into people; this is a kid that enjoys contact that enjoys the game of football and everything about it."

On Pittsford's football team, which is comprised of players from both Pittsford (N.Y.) Mendon and Pittsford (N.Y.) Sutherland High Schools, Fitzpatrick stars at quarterback, while also starting at free safety. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder will also roll down to defensive end in certain situations.

For the three years prior to this season, Fitzpatrick had played tight end and wide receiver for Pittsford. When quarterback Zach Migliore graduated following last season, an important void was created, which Molinich filled with Fitzpatrick.

"He's always thrown the ball well [and] he was a quarterback up until freshman year," Molinish said of Fitzpatrick. "We have other options with quarterback ties, but we felt like Sean was a better athlete and they don't do as well as Sean at being able to bang it through the tackles. We truly want to spread things out and go power with [Sean] and he would really hurt some people inside – the other guys aren't built like that."

Pittsford's offense is run-dominant. Thus, under normal circumstances, Fitzpatrick will be asked to throw less than ten passes a game. On the other hand, he's responsible for a good chunk of the rushing game production.

"If we find success with him banging between the tackles, we will run it until they stop us," Molinich said. "… Depending on our mindset and game plan, he could run the ball up to 30 times a game."

Although he starts at free safety, Fitzpatrick is of more value on offense.

"If we can get away without having him on defense, we will," Molinich said. "It's always been our philosophy to make quarterback a one-way player so that we can change things up on the sidelines. When we need him, he's out on the field the whole time.

"There are times we try to game plan without him on defense, so we can be better off offensively. But a lot of times we have to suck it up and let him go."

When Fitzpatrick is out there on defense, he's the "center fielder" in Pittsford's cover-3 defense.

"As a free safety, he's great in space," Molinich said. "He plays robber coverage – deep third – real well."

On the collegiate level, Fitzpatrick's field of possible positions shrinks. However, he remains capable of playing a handful of positions.

"I certainly think what UNC has in mind with him [playing hybrid back] in terms of his athleticism and down the field catching the ball, I think that's where he's going to fit in," Molinich said. "But if they needed him to play defensive end, he's a prototypical defensive end. The way he throws the ball – again, he just started as a quarterback – plus his size and athleticism, if a team needed him to [play quarterback], he would be one that could learn [the position]."

Fitzpatrick's versatility and athleticism nearly ended up at Maryland. He originally committed to the Terps, before choosing UNC.

"Both schools, academically, he knew were very, very strong," Molinich said. "And in the long run, in terms of preparing for his future, they both were wonderful places."

Last fall, UNC's tight ends coach Allen Mogridge, who was then an assistant at Buffalo, began recruiting Fitzpatrick for the Bulls. Buffalo became the first school to offer Fitzpatrick in October, while his relationship with Mogridge began to flourish.

In February, though, Fitzpatrick decided to verbally commit to Maryland.

"When Sean was initially offered by Maryland, he figured it was a great school [and] he liked the coaching staff," Molinich said.

Meanwhile, UNC hired Mogridge, who decided to continue to recruit Fitzpatrick – but for his alma mater.

"When Allen Mogridge moved to North Carolina, he called Sean and said ‘Hey, give us a shot and take a look at the school,'" Molinich said. "He did that because he liked Allen Mogridge so much."

Fitzpatrick visited UNC in mid-July and switched his verbal commitment to the Tar Heels a couple of weeks later.

"He went down there, met the rest of the coaching staff and fell in love with the school immediately," Molinich said. "The rest of the coaching staff was along the lines of what he was looking for, in terms of spending the next four-five years of his life."

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