The top-ranked University of Alabama football team has established themselves as one of the nation’s elite teams in 2012, thanks in large part to the play from talented freshmen Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon.
Talented freshmen lining the sidelines in Tuscaloosa is nothing new. Alabama has reeled in top recruiting class after top recruiting class, but this year’s group has been able to make an impact early and often.
“I think the two guys (T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper) that we have that are contributing offensively the most have become pretty complete players quickly” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “I think that speaks to their maturity, how they practice, what they do every day.”
Cooper made headlines through the fall, consistently becoming a talking point as Saban made his media rounds. Watching the six-foot-one, 200lbs receiver work at practice, Saban’s praise was proved to be justified as Cooper glided through his routes, catching pass after pass with such ease. However, his impact would be delayed as Cooper suffered a turf toe injury at the beginning of the season.
While Cooper’s impact would be delayed, Yeldon would step into the spotlight on day one in front of a nationally televised audience against the Michigan Wolverines. On the biggest stage over the opening weekend it was Yeldon who stole the show become the first Alabama freshman to rush for 100 yards in his very first performance.
While his rushing ability has turned heads in Tuscaloosa and nationally Yeldon has been equally talented in the receiving game-securing 7 passes for 94 yards. While Yeldon has provided quarterback AJ McCarron with a security net as a checkdown receiver, Cooper has emerged as the downfield threat.
Cooper’s career in Tuscaloosa was supposed to start with a bang, but instead started with a sputter. However on a crisp September night against the Ole Miss Rebels Cooper showed Tuscaloosa he had arrived, eventually telling the nation he was ready to make step into the role of Alabama’s top receiver catching 7 passes for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns against Tennessee.
“He (Cooper) comes out every week and practices really hard and AJ has developed a lot of confidence in him” junior receiver Kevin Norwood said, reemphasizing his head coach’s statement on the talented freshman.
Alabama has received plenty of acclaim for their success offensively as McCarron finds himself in the thick of discussions for post season awards and deservedly so. However, it is hard to imagine what this offense would look like without Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon.