Tide's Cooper not thinking NFL ... for now
by Mark Edwards
Apr 10, 2013 | 3626 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSCALOOSA -- If you like reading something into the way people answer questions, consider Alabama receiver Amari Cooper's response Wednesday evening when asked how the importance of keeping a level head.

"It is very important. You don’t want to get a big head after just one big season," said Cooper, a rising sophomore who is one of four receivers in Alabama history to gain 1,000 yards in one year.

Then he said, "I have two more years here."

An Alabama athletics communications staff member nervously added, "At least."

Cooper smiled and repeated, "At least."

In two years, Cooper will have completed his junior season and be eligible for the NFL draft. If he did bypass his senior season and turned pro, it wouldn't be unusual. The last two freshmen to lead Alabama in receiving, as Cooper did last year, left the Crimson Tide for pro football after their junior seasons: David Palmer to Minnesota in 1994 and Julio Jones to Atlanta in 2011.

But for now, Cooper isn't thinking about the NFL -- which he never mentioned Wednesday during his chat with reporters, by the way.

He simply is trying to get better. And for those who have to go against him next year, consider that he considers himself much more knowledgeable about the Tide offense and physically faster and bigger.

The 6-foot-1 Cooper said he has added seven pounds. That puts him at 202 pounds. Also, he said he ran the 40-yard dash at 4.4 seconds last spring when he first arrived on campus.

"This year I ran a 4.34," he said. "My technique got better, so I would say that made me faster."

Also, he added that even though he went through spring practice last year because he enrolled in January of 2012, he still struggled to learn the fine points of the Tide offense. That caused him to start the season slowly, although he finished with 59 catches for 1,000 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns.

He has no such problem hampering him now. He said he feels like a veteran.

"Everything is easier. When I first came in, I didn’t know a lot of plays," he said. "Anytime you don’t know something you can’t go full speed when you’re playing a sport. This year, I know pretty much the whole offense and I can play fast. That’s the biggest difference."

And for any Tide fan worried that the celebrity life has gotten to Cooper, it didn't seem that way Wednesday night.

When asked about how his life is different, he answered, "My life is the same."

But you're recognized on campus more, aren't you?

"Oh, yes. I’m recognized more," he said. "But my life is the same."

Do you like the celebrity aspect of your life?

"Yeah, it’s cool," he said matter-of-factly.

Fellow Alabama receiver Kenny Bell, who said Cooper "just keeps getting better every day," sees his teammate as pretty level-headed.

"He's done a great job at keeping his head cool and coming to practice every day to work," Bell said.
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