Alabama wide receiver Chris Black was opening up eyes during Crimson Tide spring practice this time a year ago and was destined to have a phenomenal freshman campaign; but, a shoulder injury in the summer dashed any hopes of him catching passes from A.J. McCarron in Black’s first year in Tuscaloosa.
Black rehabbed all season while Alabama rolled through the conference en route to another SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia, and a small window was open for Black to make his debut when he returned to practice in advance of the game vs. the Bulldogs. However, Nick Saban decided against bringing him back and elected to keep the redshirt on the 5-foot-11, 180-pound receiver.
The injury to Black turned out to be an opportunity for fellow freshman, Amari Cooper, who had 59 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns taking the place of Black on the depth chart. Cooper really came on strong in the second half of the season with five 100-yard games, catching eight of his 11 touchdowns.
Added to the wide receiver mix this season is the No. 2 ranked receiver in the nation, Robert Foster, who will combine with Black to form one of, if not the best young core of wide receivers in the nation. Alabama has been known for its power run game under Saban, but the team can now rely on its wide receivers and tight ends more than ever before.
A healthy Black will go a long way towards setting up the high-powered aerial attack that I envision happening in Tuscaloosa this season. I have a feeling Black is going to play with a sense of urgency and a chip on his shoulder this season. He’ll more than make up for the time missed in 2012 and approach 1,000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns this season.
An already-dangerous Alabama team just got a lot more scary with the return of Black, who will give opposing defenses fits in 2013 and dramatically increases the team’s chances of a third consecutive BCS Championship.