Northwestern-bound 3-way star Fitzgerald has strength, speed, smarts
You can find Robert Fitzgerald playing four or five different positions at any given Jesuit game this season.
He’s primarily a hard-hitting safety, which is the position he’ll play next year at Northwestern University. But the senior also takes snaps at running back, and on special teams, he can serve as a punter or punt returner.
“I always do whatever the team needs me to do in order to win,” Fitzgerald said. “Defense comes first for me. Whenever I’m needed on offense, and I have my breath back, then I’ll go out there. It’s definitely a challenge. I feel it the next day, for sure.”
With his ability to run, catch, block, tackle, kick, and run down opponents, he probably could add more spots to his resume under the right circumstances. But one position where Fitzgerald hasn’t yet seen action at the varsity level is at quarterback, where he played until his freshman year.
The following season, he became a varsity starter at safety as the Rangers won a school-record three playoff games. He made 79 tackles that year and grabbed the game-clinching interception in a postseason win over Klein Collins. Last season, he secured 81 more tackles and was named the District 7-6A defensive MVP.
It’s definitely a challenge. I feel it the next day, for sure.Robert Fitzgerald
“Robert is an unbelievable athlete,” said Jesuit head coach Brandon Hickman. “We’ve got to find a way to get him on the field and get him the ball as much as possible. We can’t afford for him to be standing on the sidelines much. He’s an all-around player and a great leader.”
As the leader of a team with district title aspirations again this season, the naturally soft-spoken Fitzgerald knew he needed to become more of a vocal leader.
“For the past two years, I’ve tried to lead by example,” he said. “This year, I’ve had to speak up and lead with my voice, as well. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with it.”
Fitzgerald plans to sign this winter with Northwestern, near where his father grew up in Chicago. He verbally committed to the Wildcats after attending a camp there during the summer.
“I wanted to go somewhere to get a great education that also has a great football program,” Fitzgerald said. “I chose Northwestern because I really like the trajectory of where their football program is going.”