Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper continued a blazing-hot start to the season Saturday against Southern Miss, adding another big performance to a 2014 resume that could be his last as a college player. Cooper, a junior, is considered one of the most talented underclassmen in the nation and would be eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft if he chooses to forego his last year of college eligibility.
Cooper caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown as Alabama hammered the Golden Eagles 52-12.
Cooper entered the game as the NCAA's leader in receptions with 25, and receiving yardage with 319. After his performance against Southern Miss, he has 33 catches for 454 yards and a pair of touchdowns entering Alabama's SEC opener next week against visiting Florida. That matchup will provide Cooper with his toughest head-to-head competition of the season to date, in the form of Gators All-SEC cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. Given Cooper's production this year, and Hargreaves' status as UF's top defender in man-to-man coverage, it wouldn't be surprising if Hargreaves follows Cooper all over the field next week.
While Cooper has been a dominant presence thus far, Alabama coach Nick Saban indicated he'd like to see better distribution to the Crimson Tide's receiving weapons.
Cooper's play has helped make for an impressive transition for Alabama's new starting quarterback, Blake Sims. The fifth-year senior has completed 48 of 64 passes over three games, with just one interception.