While the experience of the Alabama Crimson Tide defense has been a serious question mark throughout the offseason, the wide receiver position has also raised some concerns. The top four pass catchers from a season ago are no longer on the roster, leaving Alabama with many inexperienced receivers who will have to step up in 2012.
It also did not get any better when freshman Chris Black went down during fall camp with a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.
But the inexperience that this unit may be dealing with does give these young players a chance to make a name for themselves and prove that they have some serious potential in Tuscaloosa at the wide receiver position.
Let's take a look at some of the names you will hear throughout the year and see what these players have to offer.
Bell is the most experienced receiver from the bunch, having caught 17 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns last season. He is a lean wideout at 6'1", 180 pounds and has great big-play ability, finishing the final two games of the year with a combined three receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
He is not a physical receiver but does run solid routes and has terrific speed. This is the home run-threat out of the receiver corps, somebody who can stretch the field. Defenses can't afford to let this guy get behind them.
Norwood really gave Tide fans something to smile about in the national championship victory, finishing the game with four receptions for 78 yards. Alabama fans are hoping that type of performance can carry over to the 2012 season.
He has the size at 6'2", 195 pounds to really make an impact in his junior year. He has underrated speed, great body control and is elusive after the catch. His 17.3 yards per reception last year shows that he has the ability to be someone special with more opportunities.
White reminds me a lot of Kenny Bell, he is not the strongest receiver, or the biggest, but he has a bunch of speed. He gets off the line quickly, can get downfield in a hurry and is a threat to take it the distance when the ball is in his hands.
White finished his freshman year with 14 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns, but was very inconsistent throughout the season. Still, with his playmaking ability, the rising sophomore should see the field quite often this time around.
Jones was a true freshman last season, hauling in only three passes for 49 yards. And while he may not been that productive on the field, he will be given every chance to turn things around due to his explosive ability.
Jones is the smallest receiver out of the bunch out at 5'11", 185 pounds, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for in acceleration. He can change direction quickly, gets off the line in a flash and is building much needed confidence throughout fall camp. His play will be a factor at wide receiver and special teams this season.
Cooper is the youngest of the bunch, a true freshman heading into the 2012 season. He has average size at 6'1", 185 pounds, and is extremely athletic. He has terrific hands, runs above average routes and can go up and get the football with the best of them.
Although he may be the baby on the roster, this is somebody that Tide fans should be really excited about, as he looks to make a name for himself quickly.
Looking at the strengths of these receivers, it is clear to see that every one of these young guys has the ability to really shine this season. They all have great hands, good size or speed that opposing defenses must watch out for. (Via Andrew Gribble of al.com)
We’ve got explosive guys out there. Tight end Brian Vogler said. So many different looks ... so the things that we can do in the passing game are — it’s hard to explain. I guess you guys will see during Michigan what we can do.
The only thing that is lacking is the experience, which can only improve with playing time. Receivers like Bell, White and Jones have all shown us big-play ability, which has to be exciting for Alabama fans, knowing that these receivers will earn even more looks in 2012.
Amari Cooper has been slowed down by injury during fall camp but has really impressed coaches and could quickly emerge as one of the best freshman from the entire 2012 class.
With one of the best offensive lines in the country leading the way and a quarterback in A.J. McCarron who is quickly growing before our eyes, the receiving corps could end up being one of the strengths of this Crimson Tide team.
"It’s more spread out than it’s ever been here," McCarron said. "We have a really good group of receivers. All the guys can run. All the guys can make plays."
The question really is, how many times is Alabama going to throw the ball this season? Last year, the Crimson Tide rushed the ball 508 times, while throwing the football only 237 times. With a year under McCarron's belt, those numbers should change a bit, but with a solid backfield once again, Nick Saban's club should remain a run-first team.
Considering Bell is the most proven and experienced receiver on the roster, I expect him to receive the most looks this year.
Prediction: 54 receptions, 667 yards and eight touchdowns
With Norwood being the other starting receiver and his great size, he should also have a very productive season in 2012.
Prediction: 47 receptions, 548 yards and six touchdowns
If White can become more of a consistent wide receiver, he has a chance to really shine as a backup his sophomore year.
Prediction: 29 receptions, 460 yards and three touchdowns
With the speed of Jones, Saban will do everything in his power to give the sophomore receiver a chance to make plays for this offense. I expect a solid season from the speedy wideout.
Prediction: 32 receptions, 436 yards and five touchdowns
Cooper is expected to make an instant impact on this Alabama team and could eventually become one of the premiere weapons in this offense.
Prediction: 26 receptions, 298 yards and three touchdowns