|Dave Martin/Associated Press|
|Alabama's Amari Cooper is among the top wide receivers in college football.|
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It's hard to blame wide receiver Amari Cooper for being frustrated as an oft-injured sophomore last year, given that his freshman season at Alabama was such an immense, 1,000-yard success.
One of the most talented underclassmen in the nation, Cooper admitted Sunday he required an attitude adjustment last year when turf toe, among other injuries, caused a dip in both playing time and production.
"I think I was frustrated for a long time last year, long spans of time last year. I was having a negative attitude," he said.
Cooper finished the year with 45 catches for 736 yards, impressive numbers for most any receiver, but pedestrian compared to the 59-1,000-11 year he posted as a true freshman. While Cooper's numbers might have slipped, his skill set nevertheless drew strong praise from NFL Media analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah. Brooks wrote that he could see Cooper "thriving as a Roddy White-like playmaker as a pro."
Amari Cooper tape: explosive release-check, efficient route runner-check, high point the ball-check, elusive/physical after the catch-checkâ Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) July 8, 2013
Bama WR Amari Cooper can find another gear when the ball is in the air. Also very impressed by his route-runningâ¦very clean.â Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) July 8, 2013
Cooper would be eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft if he chose to declare after the season. And entering what could be his final year at the college level, the South Florida native said his attitude adjustment has been made.
"(It took) people talking to me, coaches talking to me, and me realizing that having a negative attitude will make anything worse," Cooper said. "It won't make anything better. ... All of them (injuries) were pretty nagging. I just felt like I couldn't be the best player I could be. But I had to realize injuries are part of football, and you have to give 100 percent of what you have when you are hurt."
Cooper is also the biggest he's ever been at 209 pounds, 26 pounds heavier than the 183 he weighed upon entering UA in 2012. UA offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin praised Cooper's offseason work ethic.
"Watching Amari, much like (Alabama running back) T.J. (Yeldon), he does not say very much. He just goes to work every day," Kiffin said. "We would have workouts when we first got here, and Amari sometimes would work out two hours before the workout started, which I thought was a really hard workout we were doing -- the fourth quarter program here -- and he'd work out two hours before that."
This year, Cooper's frustrations might come in different forms, perhaps double-teaming by defenses, or in the growing pains expected for Alabama's new quarterback. But the talented junior is certain that injuries aren't likely to affect him mentally the same way again.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.