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August 22, 2013

Alabama receivers generating buzz, expectations

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s receiving corps has one star and an impressive supporting cast.

Now, it’s up to Amari Cooper & Co. to live up to a preseason buzz ordinarily reserved for the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s tailbacks and defense.

Cooper produced one of the best seasons by a Alabama receiver as a freshman and is joined by a mix of established veterans and highly recruited youngsters to give quarterback AJ McCarron a deep assemblage of targets.

“It’s going to be one of the most spectacular receiver groups that have come around in a long time,” deep threat Kenny Bell said. “We all push each other. We don’t take it for granted that one’s better than the other, we just try to push each other. Everybody out there’s just taken it upon themselves to be a leader and push each other.”

Even former players are raving about the group.

“Probably the best wide receiving corps Alabama’s ever had is going to be in Tuscaloosa this year,” said Jay Barker, quarterback of the Tide’s 1992 national championship team.

McCarron said the chemistry with the receivers is the best he’s had.

The collection of talent is especially notable because Alabama hasn’t exactly been Wide Receiver U. Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in 2011, was the first Tide receiver drafted since fifth-rounder Triandos Luke seven years earlier.

There’s only one bona fide star entering the season but all the returnees have been productive. The depth showed when the passing game continued to thrive after Bell, DeAndrew White and freshman Chris Black were lost to injuries in 2012.

Cooper racked up 1,000 receiving yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns on 59 catches. His numbers were slightly better than Jones’ record-setting freshman season, and Cooper added two touchdowns in the BCS championship game win over Notre Dame.

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