Alabama Football: Top Ten wide receivers in Crimson Tide history

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TUSCALOOSA, AL – NOVEMBER 29: Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide catches a 17 yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims #6 in the first quarter against Jonathan Jones #3 of the Auburn Tigers during the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

No. 2 – Amari Cooper (2012-2014)

The only tough question in compiling this list was whether to rate Amari Cooper No. 1 or No. 2. Leaving him a No. 2 could easily be a mistake. For many of us who watched him in-person in his Crimson Tide career, he was the most complete wide receiver in Crimson Tide history.

He had speed, size and vision. His route-running was clinical. As importantly, he was a clutch performer. No game was too big and no opponent was too tough. He was so good he made the game look easy. That was an illusion. The best defensive backs in the SEC tried every game to control him. None succeeded.

On top of all that was his commitment to making himself and his teammates better. There is a great Cooper and Eddie Jackson story. In Jackson’s freshman season, Copper was smoking him in practice. Saban was dogging Eddie and made it clear he was not pulling him off coverage of Cooper. As Amari and a dispirited Jackson jogged between plays, Amari encouraged Eddie to hang on, saying “every play you come at me you get better.”

Cooper is No. 1 in the Alabama Crimson Tide record book s for total receptions (228), receiving yards (3,463) and 31 touchdowns. He was a 2014 consensus All-American. In the same season, he was the Biletnikoff Award winner and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

No. 1 – Don Hutson (1932-1934)

Rating a player from the 1930s is a tough task. It is particularly challenging when arguing that player is the all-time best Crimson Tide receiver. In Hutson’s case, we could use his extraordinary professional career to make the case, but as previously stated, performance after college is not considered.

Making it even more difficult is that Don Hutson recorded only modest stats in his sophomore and junior Crimson Tide seasons. In limited play, and inside an offense not much interested in passing, he had only seven catches in two seasons.

In 1934 Alabama head coach, Frank Thomas decided with Dixie Howell’s arm, Don Hutson’s 9.7 speed (100 yards) should be utilized in the passing game. The results not only re-defined the receiver position, they led to offensive changes throughout college football.

Don Hutson’s passing route designs revolutionized the game. What could not be replicated was Hutson’s route running. He had moves college football had never seen. In the 1935 Rose Bowl, Hutson caught six passes for 165 yards and two TD’s in the win over Stanford. He was named to the 1934 All-American team.

What he achieved as a Green Bay Packer was even more phenomenal. When he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame he was credited with creating passing routes that became standard throughout professional and college football.

His Alabama football stats are irrelevant. He was simply the Crimson Tide’s best-ever wide receiver.

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There are many great players in college football – so many it suggests greatness has become the norm.  All the players listed in this post were very good, most were great and some of them were beyond-description exceptional.