Cooper Working To Get Better

Amari Cooper is a man of few words, but if he wanted to he could insert something like this into the conversation: Freshman year, 59 receptions, 1,000 yards (both breaking Julio Jones' previous Bama freshman records), 11 touchdown receptions (more than any player in Crimson Tide history regardless of class), consensus Freshman All-America.

Instead, Alabama sophomore wide receiver Amari Cooper said, "I don't feel like I did a whole lot last year as far as my expectations."

So what might be his expectations for himself in 2013?

"To have a better year than last year.," said the 6-1, 202-pound Miami native. "Now I'll be starting the first game this year. I didn't start the first game last year. We'll see if I have a better year than last year."

Cooper was obvously very good as a freshman and has been listed as a pre-season All-America player. Southeasern Conference coaches selected him first team pre-season All-SEC.

Virginia Tech will be the first team to get an up-close look at how good Cooper is this year. Bama meets the Hokies in the opening game of the 2013 season at 5:30 p.m. ET (4:30 central time) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Alabama is the pre-season favorite to win the national championship, as the Tide has the past two years and three of the last four.

Although Cooper had an outstanding first scrimmage in fall camp with three long touchdown receptions from A.J. McCarron, he also had some down time owing to a foot injury suffered in that first scrimmage. He was held out of most contact work in fall camp.

Cooper said the foot is "a lot better, close to 100 percent. Probably 95. It doesn't bother me. I can play. It got better every day. Now it;'s fine. It's not painful, but I can feel it. It's something I can play through."

Cooper indicated that he will be a better player this year than last. He gives credit to Billy Napier, who returned to the Alabama staff this year as wide receivers coach. But Cooper also thinks he would have made progress in his second year regardless of the coach.

One of the things he said Napier had helped him with is in recognizing defenses. So what has he seen from Virginia Tech's secondary? "They are a solid secondary," Cooper said. "They play a lot of man-to-man (coverage) so it should be a good challenge."

Cooper said he enjoyed playing against man-to-man defense "It's more of a challenge," he said. "They are saying their guy is better than you. Since I'm a competitor, I like that challenge."

Cooper said his life hasn't changed after his big freshman season for the national champions. At least, "not much.

"On the football field I just try to get better every day, so not much changed there, either."

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