Minkah Fitzpatrick is already thinking about the day his dream will become reality.
Sept. 9, 2018.
On that day, Fitzpatrick envisions rushing out of locker room at Hard Rock Stadium to a blaring crowd on a Sunday afternoon.
On that day, he will roam the field with the goal of making enough plays on defense to help the Miami Dolphins defeat the Tennessee Titans.
On that day, Minkah Fitzpatrick will officially be an NFL player.
"Every day I just think about it," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm just going out there and doing what I do. Making plays. It's the same game. Just in a different stadium, different setting. I've just got to do what I do."
The Dolphins' selected Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft in May hoping he will help fortify a defense that gave up the fourth-most points per game last year (24.6).
Fitzpatrick, the 21-year-old ball-hawking defensive back who had an All-American collegiate career at Alabama, wants to show the coaching staff he can make an immediate impact. He already had an impressive showing during organized team activities, earning praise from coaches and teammates alike.
"OTAs were good. I learned a lot," Fitzpatrick said. "I have the playbook not mastered, but I'm learning the playbook. All the older guys took us in. Whenever we have questions, they answer them. Whenever they see something, they point it out. We're all working together."
Two months of preparation are finished. Now, there are about two more months to go.
Fitzpatrick's plan is to continue improving once training camp begins. Miami's rookies report on July 15. Veterans show up to the practice facility in Davie a week later.
Fitzpatrick's long-term goal is simple: He wants to establish himself as a top player on the defense. He did it at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide win a pair of SEC championships and two College Football Playoff titles over three years. He wants to make his mark on the NFL sooner rather than later.
First, Fitzpatrick has to get through Sept. 9 and his soon-to-be NFL debut.
"It's a whole lot of fun," Fitzpatrick said. "Every single day I get to walk out on the field is a huge honor. It's a blessing. It is what it is, and I've got to keep on pushing."