Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) carries the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

14 Till 14: How Important Is Alabama's No. 9?

Alabama’s quarterback battle is the major headline right now, but we have other story lines as well.

Amari Cooper wasn’t exactly the most talked about freshman among the fans in 2012, but due to a Chris Black injury and him rapidly climbing up the depth chart, everyone in Tuscaloosa knew they were about to witness something special when September rolled around.

Cooper went on to have a historical freshman season, setting records for receiving yards in a single game and receiving touchdowns records in a season. Last year was still a productive year but didn’t really turn it on until late in the season. This year?

Cooper has been listed on numerous pre-season All-American teams and it’s hard to not feel the hype. He has good size, speed and comes up clutch when the Tide need a big play. He’s a future first-round pick and is on pace to own numerous Alabama receiving records.

With all that being said, Cooper has to stay healthy for Alabama to have any type of significant success this season.

“But we have Howard and a great running back trio and five-star players throughout the roster!” you say. I hear you, but Cooper is the game changer in this offense. It’s always nice to talk about potential with other players, but Cooper has already become one of the Alabama greats whether you realize it or not. Honestly, the quarterback battle is nice to talk about, but all the Alabama offense needs is a game manager and a guy who can give the best weapons the ball. I’m talking about Cooper in this instance.

If Cooper can stay healthy this season, not only will he go down as an Alabama great, but he could be the deciding factor between a national championship or a Chick-Fil-A bowl visit.

Alabama does have nice depth at the position, including DeAndrew White and a healthy Chris Black but Cooper is the guy. We always hear the saying, “the quarterback makes the receiver,” but this season it could be the receiver making the QB. That’s how big an impact Cooper has on this offense, and hopefully we’ll see the third-year receiver thrive in Lane Kiffin’s offense.

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