Alabama Football: Tide Receivers Are More Than 'Amari Cooper and Everyone Else'
Alabama established its current dynasty with a punishing running game and a stifling defense, but in order to extend the dynasty, it may open things up a bit.
The reasons are simple: The Crimson Tide have a senior back at quarterback in AJ McCarron and a truckload of weapons for him to rely on through the air.
The most notable option is first-team All-SEC wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper burst onto the scene last season as a true freshman, catching 58 passes for 999 yards and 11 touchdowns, including the game-winner in Alabama's 32-28 win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
Cooper is a star, no doubt. But Alabama's receiving corps is far from "Amari Cooper and everybody else."
It seems like Kevin Norwood has been around for a decade, but the 6'2", 202-pound redshirt senior enters his final campaign as Alabama's most experienced receiver. He caught 29 passes for 461 yards and four touchdowns a year ago and is a big-time weapon lining up alongside Cooper.
His larger frame allows him to go up over smaller defensive backs and makes him quite the weapon over the middle. His route-running ability is polished and the familiarity he has developed with McCarron over the years makes him a huge asset for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
DeAndrew White is back from an ACL injury that ended his season in early October, but up to that point, White was showing flashes of brilliance with eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns starting ahead of then-freshman Cooper.
The knee injury is concerning, but according to Drew Champlin of AL.com, White is good to go.
"When I first came back, I was scared to cut a certain way and cut like that, but since I've been through the spring and the summer, no worries," White said. "I'm going 100 percent and I can shine by anything."
He can shine by anything, but will he shine by Norwood and Cooper on the depth chart? Perhaps at times. But a healthy White as the third wide receiver is a "rich man's problem" for Nussmeier and McCarron.
Toss in fellow veterans Kenny Bell and Christion Jones, and Alabama's depth chart is simply loaded with talent at wide receiver.
But some of those veterans are going to have a hard time finding the field.
Chris Black was set to play as a true freshman last season before a shoulder injury ended his season shortly after the start of fall camp. Black was rated as the fifth-best receiver in the 2012 247Sports.com composite, one spot ahead of Cooper. He had 61 receiving yards in the 2012 Alabama spring game and has a high school highlight reel that is sure to turn heads.
If you're looking for a breakout player for the Tide this season, Black could be it.
Other than Amari Cooper, who will have the most receiving yards for Alabama in 2013?
Or, it could be another newcomer in true freshman Robert Foster. The 6'3", 187-pounder was the nation's No. 2 wide receiver in the class of 2013, according to 247Sports.com, and has been turning heads early during Alabama's fall camp.
Don Kausler, Jr. of AL.com compared him to former Crimson Tide standout Julio Jones in his notebook from Alabama's first practice. Lofty expectations, no doubt. But certainly indicative of just how good this receiving corps could be.
Alabama will boast a much different offense this season than it has in years past. The Crimson Tide haven't had this much depth—some of which is established and some of which is potential—at the wide receiver position in quite some time.
It should be fun to watch how much head coach Nick Saban and the coaching staff balances a typically conservative approach with what could be one of the most explosive offenses in the SEC.
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