- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 9 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.
Not since Julio Jones has a true freshman wide receiver been talked about as much as No. 9 Amari Cooper. The former Miami Northwestern standout enrolled at Alabama in February and made an impression on the coaching staff right away.
The top-10 receiver coming out of high school has played at a high level consistently all spring, according to coach Nick Saban, and figures to play a role near the top of the wide receiver rotation as soon as Week 1 against Michigan.
Here's what some players and coaches have had to say about the 6-foot-1, 198-pound receiver:
Wide receiver Kenny Bell: "He's coming out there working hard every day, pushing every receiver on the [field]. All the older guys, making everyone know he's there, he's present. He comes out and works hard every day. He's a quick learner and he's just coming out and playing ball."
"From my coming in as a freshman, I think the toughest situation is, just because you had all the hype in high school you still have to come to college and be able to learn. You can't just live off the high school hype. You've got to come in and learn to be the great player you can be. Coach Saban is going to push you hard, the receiving corps is going to push you hard. You've got other players just as good as you, so you've got to push yourself hard."
Quarterback AJ McCarron: "I think Amari Cooper and Chris Black have shown good ability. Any time you have freshmen, it's just a matter if those guys are going to be able to play with the consistency, persevere, continue to improve, not get frustrated, not be up and down because they don't have the maturity to sustain things. I think that will be key to how those guys will develop but I do think both those guys can make a contribution next year."
Coach Nick Saban: "Amari Cooper has done a really good job, there are a lot of guys out there doing a really good job every day showing consistency and performance, which I think is really important to being successful. Hopefully, we'll get more and more guys that are able to do that as they gain more knowledge and experience of what's expected of them."
5dSam Khan Jr.