Alabama Football: Comparing Amari Cooper and Julio Jones as Freshmen

Bryan PowersCorrespondent INovember 15, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide pulls in this touchdown reception over the hands of Frank Crawford #5 of the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama freshman wideout Amari Cooper has certainly made a name for himself in Tuscaloosa this season.

After modest success in his first three games, Cooper has emerged as the go-to target for the Tide passing attack and is closing in on multiple freshman receiving records set by current Atlanta Falcon Julio Jones.

Julio Jones arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2008 as the fourth ranked recruit in the nation by Cooper came with high expectations as well, ranked No. 45 nationally and sixth among receivers.

Cooper doesn't look much like Jones, giving up three inches and almost 20 lbs. to his predecessor. While Jones is somewhat of a Terrell Owens clone who can punish defensive backs with his size and strength, Cooper is more of a finesse-type speedster.

What Cooper has done this season, though, has taken the Alabama campus by storm. After catching just three passes in his first two games, Cooper began to take flight.

He picked up his first touchdown grab in game three at Arkansas. Over the next five games, Cooper caught 27 passes for 445 yards and four more scores. After being shut out against LSU, Cooper rebounded with six catches for 136 yards and a score in the stunning loss to Texas A&M.

On the season now, Cooper has caught 38 passes for 608 yards and six touchdowns for the Tide.

The touchdowns are an Alabama freshman record, besting the four accumulated in 2008 by Jones.

Assuming Alabama beats lowly Auburn next week, the Tide will have four games remaining this season, including the SEC Championship against Georgia and an undetermined bowl game.

If Cooper maintains his current pace, this would give him 53 catches on the year, just five short of another freshman record held by Jones. He would also have roughly 852 yards receiving, 72 short of yet another of Jones' freshman records.

Yet if we take the LSU game out of the mix, the averages rise, and Cooper could easily reach both of those marks and end the season holding three freshman records at Alabama, practically knocking Jones clear out of the freshman record books.

Cooper is also in line to place himself among the top ten all-time at Alabama for catches, yards and touchdowns in a single season regardless of his freshman status. The all-time touchdown record is 10, set by Al Lary in 1950.

In the SEC conference, Cooper is comfortably first among freshman receivers in touchdowns and second in both receptions and yards, trailing only Mike Evans of Texas A&M.

Julio Jones was Julio Jones. He was a high school icon in Foley, Alabama before he ever committed to play for the Tide, and the legend continued to grow throughout his Alabama tenure.

Amari Cooper is no Julio. To say that he is would be disrespectful to both parties.

Nonetheless, the numbers being compiled by the star freshman clearly put him in the same class as the former All-American and first-round NFL draft pick.

Like Jones, it is all but inevitable that the legend of Amari Cooper will continue to grow in Tuscaloosa.

Amari Cooper, the freshman wide receiver out of Miami, FL, is well on his way to becoming the next, well, Amari Cooper. And somewhere there is an eighth grade football player who already has his sights on knocking him out of the Alabama record books.