Monday, May 27, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Amari Cooper
By Alex Scarborough
During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.
Alabama is so loaded at receiver that Amari Cooper's statistics could take a dip even if he's just as effective as he was in a record-breaking freshman season.
Expectations for 2013: You don't set rookie records held by the likes of Julio Jones and go backward. Such are the sky-high expectations for Cooper, who emerged as Alabama's go-to receiver in his first season on campus, pulling in a freshman-record 59 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He did all that while starting just nine of 14 games. As a sophomore and the undisputed top receiver on campus, he'll start every game for the Tide in 2013.
Best-case scenario: If he can stay healthy, there's no limit to what Cooper can do. Because unlike many of the top receivers in college football, the secondary won't be able to double- and triple-team him without paying the price. Not with the deep crop of pass-catchers Alabama has this season that goes five- and six-deep with starting talent.
Worst-case scenario: There's a double-edged sword to that kind of depth, though, at least from a personal standpoint. Because Alabama has receivers like Kevin Norwood, DeAndrew White, Kenny Bell, Chris Black and Christion Jones all demanding the football, the number of single-receiver sets featuring Cooper this season won't be quite so numerous. His impact might not diminish as the ball gets spread around, but his stats may wane.
Future impact: Even Cooper acknowledges that his time at Alabama will likely be shortened by an early entry to the draft. But at least two more years of No. 9 lighting up defenses is guaranteed. When McCarron leaves, Cooper will be the new quarterback's best friend in 2014.