The Alabama Crimson Tide have built a reputation as a running team. While that has not changed, there is a new cog in the Tide’s offense, freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper.
The production is not surprising. Alabama head coach Nick Saban showered Cooper with praise on the summer media circuit, praise that was proven justified after watching the man who wears the number nine jersey glide through his routes, effortlessly pulling in each pass that AJ McCarron during fall camp.
Cooper, a six-foot-one, 200 lbs true freshman receiver out of Miami, Fla has wasted no time becoming AJ McCarron’s favorite target once the season started, accumulating statistics that top the receiving corps. While injuries have hampered his production (while played in the first three games, never looked fully healthy), the freshman finished out the regular season with 45 catches, for 767 yards, well within striking distance of Julio Jones’ freshman receiving record of 924 yards.
He is not the physical specimen Jones is (few are), however the impact is still the same. In a season where Alabama desperately needed a receiver to step up, it has been Cooper that has risen to the occasion. Now, he may have to rise even higher.
Cooper’s role was elevated in the fifth week of the season when DeAndrew White went down with a knee injury-and Cooper rose to the occasion in front of the Bryant Denny crowd with 5 catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns against the Ole Miss Rebels. Saturday afternoon, Alabama’s home-run threat, Kenny Bell, also went down to injury, which could put even more of the passing game’s weight on the freshman.
Fortunately forAlabama, the freshman has some big shoulders and a steady pair of hands