BamaHammer Players Championship Round 2: Leroy Cook (1) vs. John Copeland (5)


Last week we had an upset – at least in the opinion of us old-timers – in our quest to crown the greatest Alabama Crimson Tide football player of all time. AJ McCarron ran away with it, and now heads to the semifinals of his bracket.

This week pits two former defensive ends against each other; it’s time to vote, folks.

Stallings Division – D-Line vs. O-Line

Leroy Cook (1972-1975)

Defensive End – Abbeville, Ala.
6’4”, 220 lbs
Career: 200 tackles (13 for loss), 15 sacks, 10 forced fumbles

A consensus All-American in 1974 and a unanimous selection in 1975, Leroy Cook played a key role during the Crimson Tide’s run of four consecutive SEC championships between 1972-1975 that included a national championship in 1973. During his four-year tenure, the Tide held a record of 43-5.

Few players in Alabama history – offensively or defensively – filled the stat sheet like Cook did. In his first All-American season in 1974, Cook recorded 81 tackles (4 for loss), 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 blocked kicks – the second-most ever in a single season by an Alabama player.

During the 1975 campaign, Cook was named SEC Player of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club after improving his stat line with 85 tackles (13 for loss), 9 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. He also had career-highs in both tackles and sacks in a game after recording 22 and 4 against Mississippi State and Tennessee, respectively.

For his career, Cook shares the Alabama record for most forced fumbles in a career with 10 and his 4 blocked kicks puts him behind only Derrick Thomas with 5. Cook has since been named to Alabama’s 1970s All-Decade Team and to Sports Illustrated’s All-Time University of Alabama team.

John Copeland (1991-1992)

Defensive End – Lanett, Ala.
6’3”, 261 lbs
Career Statistics: 130 tackles (36.5 for loss), 17.5 sacks, 36 quarterback hurries

Along with fellow defensive end Eric Curry, John Copeland made up one half of possibly the greatest defensive end tandem in college football history.

Copeland arrived at The University of Alabama in 1991 after beginning his college career at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss., and his presence was immediately felt. After a 7-5 season the previous year in 1990, Copeland helped lead the Crimson Tide to an 11-1 season during his first season in 1991. He helped anchor a defense that allowed only 4 rushing touchdowns all season.

But it was the 1992 season where Copeland’s money was made, where as a unanimous All-SEC and a consensus All-American, he helped take the Tide one step further. That year the Tide finished the season as undefeated national champions following a 34-13 win over the Miami Hurricanes in the Sugar Bowl. In the process, the 13-0 Tide also defeated the Florida Gators in the first-ever SEC Championship game.

Copeland finished that season with 10.5 sacks, tying him for fourth all-time in the Alabama record book for sacks in a season along with Curry, who also had 10.5 sacks in 1992. His 21.5 tackles for loss rank him third all-time for a season in Tide history.

The No. 1 ranked Tide defense allowed only 660 total yards on the ground, including only 55.0 rushing yards per game and 1.67 rushing yards per play in 1992. As a defense, they gave up just 3.21 yards per play.

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