Friday, February 8, 2013
Cooper Bateman adjusts to life at Bama
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Cooper Bateman keeps getting asked the same question since he enrolled at the University of Alabama. What made a kid from Utah want to come down to the state of Alabama to play football?
Cooper Bateman said transitioning from Utah to Alabama won't be an issue.
“That will be the No. 1 question,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference. “It’s a ways away from home, and I know that. But I think it all comes down to what I saw here on my trip. It says a lot about Alabama that a guy from Utah is willing to come this far because he fell in love with it that much.”
Bateman first visited Tuscaloosa last spring. It was his first time in the state. The ESPN 150 quarterback committed to the Crimson Tide a month later.
“I never even imagined Alabama would come up in this process at all,” Bateman said. “When I pictured it before, I pictured it flat, old, kind of like Oklahoma -- nothing around. We came here, and there was green everywhere, rolling hills. Like I said, I fell in love with it instantly.”
The visit was key, but the two sides might never have crossed paths if it wasn’t for UA offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, Bateman’s recruiting coordinator.
Nussmeier started recruiting the West Coast signal-caller when Nussmeier was still at Washington. He visited a couple times at his school and started that relationship. When he moved on to Alabama, he took Bateman’s name with him.
All of a sudden Bateman was near the top of the Tide’s wish list for a quarterback.
Bateman credits Nussmeier for one of the main reasons why he chose Alabama. Now that he’s enrolled and on campus, he gets to see his coach on a daily basis, but the relationship has changed somewhat.
“Coach Nuss, he’s an easy coach. He’s a players’ coach,” Bateman said. “You can talk to him whenever you want. Things have changed a little bit, of course. Now I’m here, and he’s my coach. So I’m seeing that side of him now, but he’s still a great guy.”
All three quarterbacks in the class -- Bateman, Parker McLeod and walk-on Luke Del Rio -- enrolled early to get on campus, learn the offense and compete for a spot behind returning starter AJ McCarron.
Of the three, Bateman was ranked the highest, but he knows he still has to come in and work.
“When [Nick] Saban recruited me from the very start, he said, ‘We’re looking for someone to come in here, learn the offense -- know it inside and out -- so you can manage the game out there on the field,’ ” Bateman said.