Alabama Crimson Tide: Amari Cooper Hopes to Use Sugar Bowl as Springboard for 2014

John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

The 2013 season figured to be just another step on the road to the NFL for Amari Cooper. After all, the Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver was outstanding as a freshman in 2012, leading the team with 59 receptions for a team-high 1,000 yards and a team best 11 touchdown. Cooper broke the freshman records of former ‘Bama receiver Julio Jones, who has gone on to a nice career in the NFL.

However, things didn’t quite work out as planned in 2013. Cooper, a 6-1, 202-pound sophomore, struggled at times this season. He caught 36 passes, tied for the team high, and had 615 yards receiving, which led the Tide. Cooper had four touchdown receptions, which was second on the team to Kevin Norwood‘s seven scores.

While those numbers are not bad, they are certainly not what Cooper was expecting in 2013. With quarterback A.J. McCarron returning, most figured that Cooper would take his game up another level this season, but it did not happen. Coverages were shifted his way, and he found it tough to get open at times during the season. This sometimes happens when a receiver goes from unknown to the man. The best receivers are able to make adjustments and keep getting better.

Cooper still has at least one more year of college to go. And he would like nothing more than to have an outstanding season in 2014, one that could propel him to the NFL.

If he is taking advantage of the situation, Cooper should be using the bowl practice time to work on his routes and getting open in double coverage. And he needs to use the Sugar Bowl game against the Oklahoma Sooners as a springboard to a big 2014. If he can play well to finish this season, it will bode well for his prospects for next year.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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