Cooper, Alabama receivers generating buzz
Alabama’s receiving corps has one star and an impressive
Now, it’s up to Amari Cooper & Co. to live up to a preseason
buzz ordinarily reserved for the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s
tailbacks and defense.
Cooper produced one of the best seasons by a Alabama receiver as
a freshman and is joined by a mix of established veterans and
highly recruited youngsters to give quarterback AJ McCarron a deep
assemblage of targets.
”It’s going to be one of the most spectacular receiver groups
that have come around in a long time,” deep threat Kenny Bell
said. ”We all push each other. We don’t take it for granted that
one’s better than the other, we just try to push each other.
Everybody out there’s just taken it upon themselves to be a leader
and push each other.”
Even former players are raving about the group.
”Probably the best wide receiving corps Alabama’s ever had is
going to be in Tuscaloosa this year,” said Jay Barker, quarterback
of the Tide’s 1992 national championship team.
McCarron said the chemistry with the receivers is the best he’s
The collection of talent is especially notable because Alabama
hasn’t exactly been Wide Receiver U. Atlanta Falcons star Julio
Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in 2011, was the first Tide receiver
drafted since fifth-rounder Triandos Luke seven years earlier.
There’s only one bona fide star entering the season but all the
returnees have been productive. The depth showed when the passing
game continued to thrive after Bell, DeAndrew White and freshman
Chris Black were lost to injuries in 2012.
Cooper racked up 1,000 receiving yards and a school-record 11
touchdowns on 59 catches. His numbers were slightly better than
Jones’ record-setting freshman season, and Cooper added two
touchdowns in the BCS championship game win over Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder produced the fourth-best yardage total
by a Tide receiver and had 29 catches of 15-plus yards.
Cooper has been limited in practice with a strained foot but
produced 182 yards and three touchdowns on four catches in
Alabama’s first scrimmage.
”He is absolutely amazing,” Tide cornerback John Fulton said.
”Some of the stuff he does, I have no idea where he learned it
from, but he’s absolutely amazing.”
Cooper has plenty of help, too. Alabama’s five returning
receivers who played last year have a collective 128 games and 44
starts while producing 3,092 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Kevin Norwood has 144 yards in the last two national
championship games while Bell is averaging 19.8 yards on 36
catches. White started the first five games last season before his
That doesn’t include the highly touted Black, who was expected
to play last season before a preseason shoulder injury. Coach Nick
Saban pondered giving up Black’s redshirt for the Southeastern
Conference and BCS championship games if necessary.
”He’s going to be a great receiver,” Bell said. ”Y’all just
watch out for him.”
Five-star recruit Robert Foster and fellow freshman Raheem
Falkins are joining the mix, creating plenty of competition.
”Not one receiver is letting another receiver slack,” Cooper
said. ”We’ve been pushing each other every day. We’ve been pushing
the young guys to learn the system, and it’s been very fun.”
Sophomore Cyrus Jones, a five-star receiving prospect who played
some last season, has moved to cornerback.
Saban always insists he seeks a balanced offense, and the Tide
has only a 124-yard edge in rushing yards versus passing in
claiming the past two national titles. The offensive line underwent
a makeover, but with tailback T.J. Yeldon and the receivers, there
are plenty of skill players.
”I think this offense could be great,” H-back Jalston Fowler
said. ”I mean really good. We’ve got weapons everywhere. I think
you could take any guy out and not miss a heartbeat.”