Jameis Winston won the 2013 Heisman Trophy in a landslide which puts a bulls-eye on his back for the contenders in 2014 to shoot for as they try and win the Heisman for themselves. There are countless worthy candidates all over the country at every position. While the award has been dominated by quarterbacks in recent history, 2014 will be a year with unparalleled star-power at the skill positions. Wide receiver Amari Cooper of the Alabama Crimson Tide is one of those stars and he has the playmaking ability to bring the Heisman back to Tuscaloosa in 2014.
Looking at his stats from 2013, you wouldn’t think that the sophomore wide receiver had any shot at college football’s highest individual honor. He caught just 36 passes for 615 yards on the season with four touchdowns. It was a huge step back from his breakout freshman season when he caught 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Tide’s march to a second-straight BCS National Championship. The reason for the dip in his sophomore season has been lingering injuries that have robbed Cooper of his full ability but that shouldn’t be a problem in 2014.
Cooper showed what he could do when he was healthy in 2012 and gave us a glimpse of that ability again in the Iron Bowl against the Auburn Tigers. The sophomore turned in his best performance of the season, looking as healthy as he has all year long, and broke out for 178 yards on six catches including a 99-yard catch and run for a touchdown. It was the kind of big-play, over-the-top performance that Alabama had been looking for out of Cooper all season long (even though it came in the team’s only loss of the season).
With AJ McCarron moving on next season, a new signal caller will take over the huddle for Alabama. As they get comfortable, they will likely need someone to step up and act as a security blanket in the passing game, emerging as the go-to receiver when the Tide need to make a play through the air. Cooper will be that go-to guy and he can take those opportunities all the way to New York City in 2014 for a Heisman Trophy run.