The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Alright, it's still very early in the college football season. That's why, if you ask me to predict a national champion or even the Final Four I could offer you only an educated guess.
But when it comes to predicting the Heisman Trophy winner of 2014, the picture is already starting to clear.
While names such as Todd Gurley and Marcus Mariota slip easily off the lips of national talking heads (sorry Jameis, I don't think this will be your year), let me remind them to put the name Amari Cooper on their list of favorites.
While some college athletes do everything they can to be the center of attention (think of the FSU-Clemson game the other night), Alabama's junior wide receiver from Miami almost fights to shun the spotlight.
During an interview, this kid offers up such short answers that he makes Gus Malzahn sound like Terry Bowden. And you know something? It's refreshing!
I had a chance to talk briefly with Cooper on Saturday night after the Crimson Tide beat down the Florida Gators.
He told me he continues to look for ways to get better, from running more precise routes to hanging onto those passes that he misses (if you saw Cooper's second TD Saturday I think you will agree he has some pretty good hands).
His teammates? Austin Shepherd and Ryan Kelly tell me there may be no Bama player who works harder.
Of course the best way of gauging a player's success is by looking at the numbers, and the numbers are fascinating. Through four games this season, Amari Cooper can boast of the following:
Receiving Yards: 655 (#1 in the SEC)
Receptions: 43 (#1 in the SEC)
Touchdowns: 5 (#1 in the SEC)
Saturday night, Cooper broke Dennis Homan's Alabama record for career TD catches, as Coop now has 20, Homan had 18.
And what did Cooper say to me when I asked him Saturday about breaking the record? "Yeah, someone told me about that."
I asked if he was happy and Amari simply nodded his head (like I said, he's the strong, silent type).
Is Cooper the best receiver in UA history? Let's compare him to big, tough Julio Jones, the former man-child from Foley. Through the first four games of their junior seasons, their stats looked like this:
Catches: Julio 20, Amari 43
Receiving Yds: Julio 303, Amari 655
Touchdowns: Julio 2, Amari 5
Who broke Julio Jones' freshman receiving records at Bama? That's Amari (59 receptions, 1,000 yards). By the time he finishes this season and likely heads to the NFL, Cooper may wind up obliterating university records by the dozens.
How does Amari Cooper celebrate his success? I imagine he doesn't- after all, there is more work to do.
I asked Cooper Saturday if could rank his current game on a scale of 1 to 10. He told me, "About a 7.5." A 7.5? What will this kid look like if he ever reaches a 10?
As a Heisman voter I no doubt have lots to look over before I cast my vote in late November. Right now? He's in my top three and deserving of an invitation to New York City.
And if this quiet, shy young man does indeed win the Heisman, the folks at ESPN better be ready to fill some time, because they will witness the shortest acceptance speech in Heisman history.
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