Saban Recalls Recruitment Of Amari Cooper [VIDEO]
Long before he became a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and a record breaker in nearly every other game, Amari Cooper was just one of many promising football prospects in a long list of them that Alabama had on their radar.
That was until Nick Saban saw him play in front of his very own eyes for the first time.
Asked about what he remembered most about Cooper during the recruiting process during his Wednesday press conference, Saban recalled when the Miami, Florida native came to the Crimson Tide's summer football camp in 2011 as a rising high school senior and immediately stood out from the rest.
"We’ve had some good receivers that have been in our camps over the years, and I think he may have been the most impressive to me in terms of his ability, his ability to change direction and get out of a break, the quickness, the acceleration, the speed, good hands, hard worker," Saban said. "I walked away from that camp, saying this guy may be the best receiver we’ve ever had in our camp, and we’ve had some really good ones."
Earlier on Wednesday, former Alabama and current Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones, who set several Alabama receiving records during Saban's first few years at the school until Cooper broke them this season, said he sees a bright future for Cooper at the next level.
"He's going to be great because just where he's coming from, first of all -- from the University of Alabama," Jones said during a radio interview with ESPN. "Just the character he's going to have when he gets to the league. You've never heard anything negative about him.
"He's going to be a professional. He's going to be a great player on the next level. He has the talent and everything else, but also it's off-the-field that matters the most."
Cooper quickly made a name for himself during his freshman campaign with Alabama in 2012. A four-star wide receiver prospect coming out of Northwestern (Fla.) Senior High School, Cooper logged 59 receptions for 1,000 yards and set the school record for touchdown receptions with 11. But the initial first impression he left for some was not quite as loud as his play on the field.
"He didn’t talk much when he was a freshman, little at all, but you could tell he was about business," senior wide receiver Christion Jones said. "Now he’s more loose."
This season, Cooper currently ranks first in the nation in receiving yards (1,303), second in receiving yards per game (130.3) and third in receptions (87). Cooper has also broken or tied eight Alabama receiving records this season, including career receiving yards and career touchdowns receptions. The last major milestone left for the junior wideout to set is the career receptions mark of 194 set by D.J. Hall (2004-07), which he needs four to surpass.
Saban talks Muschamp
Will Muschamp was let go from his job as head coach of the Florida Gators on Sunday, so Saban has tried to reach out to his former assistant to offer him his support.
But the Alabama coach has been unable to connect with him yet, despite a few calls. Still, he provided some context as to what he would say to Muschamp.
"I don't care what's happened to Will in his circumstance," Saban said Wednesday. "He did a really good job, in my opinion, of making that program better. He did a great job of recruiting. He was a great competitor out there in recruiting and I think he really did a good job coaching the team. There were just some parts of the team that never did as well as people's expectations and that's the business that we're in."
Muschamp leaves Florida after four seasons as head coach. He will coach the Gators in their final two regular-season games this season against Eastern Kentucky and Florida State but not in a potential bowl game if the team is to make one.
Prior to being hired at Florida, Muschamp was the defensive coordinator under Saban at LSU from 2001-04 and with the Miami Dolphins in 2005. In his two meetings against his former pupil, Saban's Crimson Tide went 2-0 over Muschamp's Gators, winning 38-10 in 2011 in Gainesville and 42-21 earlier this season in Tuscaloosa.
"I know that he'll do well wherever he decides to go and whatever he decides to do because I know what kind of competitor and what kind of person he is," Saban said. "Anything that we can do for him, we’ll certainly be there to help him every way that we can."
Saban announced that the team had no new injuries.
Running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and wide receiver DeAndrew White (hamstring) have been limited in practice this week. No word has been given on if either will play this Saturday.
To hear Saban's entire press conference from Wednesday, watch the video above. For player interviews, watch the videos below:
Wide receiver Christion Jones:
Cornerback Cyrus Jones: