TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If you go by the media voting during SEC Media Days in July, it’s the top one-on-one matchup of the 2014 season.

While there’s never been a unanimous selection for preseason All-SEC, University of Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper came closest this year, edging out teammate T.J Yeldon by one vote and Georgia running back Todd Gurley by two.

The top-voting vote getter among non-Crimson Tide players was the player he’ll see a lot of Saturday, Florida sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

“He’s fast, quick,” Cooper said. “He plays smart.”

Two years ago Hargreaves was considered by recruiting services to be the consensus top cornerback in the nation, who could essentially attend any school that he wanted. The Tampa, Fla., product has since done nothing but back that up as last year his 11 pass breakups tied a school record for a freshman (Janoris Jenkins, 2008), his 1.17 average in passes defended was second in the league, and he made three interceptions.

“He was a really, really good player in high school,” Nick Saban said. “He’s very instinctive, he’s fast, quick. But I think probably his greatest asset besides having great ability is he’s a very instinctive player. A very good cover guy. He’s tough, physical.

“He has good ball skills, he can play man-to-man and he’s a good tackler. He does all those things extremely well.”

With cornerback being a need position for the Crimson Tide two years ago, Saban made a strong pitch to land Hargreaves, who told the Tampa Bay Times last year that he didn’t like the Crimson Tide’s all-business approach and called the coach “intimidating.” When asked if he could see himself having fun at Alabama, Hargreaves said: “Nah. That’s why I didn’t go.”

Although he committed in July and signed with a former Saban assistant Will Muschamp, Hargreaves chose Florida over Clemson, Miami, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame.

Cooper, meanwhile, is a little older, a little bigger, (6-1, 210 pounds compared to 5-11, 195), and like his counterpart was a preseason All-American selection by numerous media services. With 33 receptions for 454 yards, he leads the nation in catches per game and is fifth in average yards.

“Coop’s got really good size, very quick for a guy his size,” Saban said. “He’s got explosive speed. He’s exceptionally good against press, coming off the ball, but he’s also very good coming out of a break. Most of the time the defender gets beat either on the release or out of the break. A lot of guys are pretty good at one and maybe not as good at the other. And he has really good hands and good ball skills.

“So he’s the complete package.”

Junior Brian Poole is Florida’s other starting quarterback, whom Cooper knows from playing in the Under-Armour All-American Game. However, last week the Gators gave up 369 passing yards to Kentucky, with Wildcats receiver Garrett Johnson making six receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Hargreaves was credited with four pass breakups, but had to leave the game in the second quarter due to cramping up. At the time the score was 3-3. Without him Kentucky attacked his replacement, freshman Jalen Tabor, and the secondary had some obvious breakdowns in the 36-30 triple-overtime victory.

While there’s no way of knowing of how Florida will try and counter Cooper, especially since he knows all of the Alabama receiver positions and senior DeAndrew White is expected back from a shoulder injury as well, the Crimson Tide is expecting more man, press coverage.

Considering how well Alabama threw quick screens against Florida Atlantic with Cooper tying a school record with 13 receptions for 189 yards, the Gators probably don’t have much of a choice.

“Yeah, a lot of teams played off and just ran back kind of, and you can’t really get anything out of that as a receiver,” Cooper said. “But press man, it’s good work for a receiver to have in the game.”

Hargreaves told reporters in Gainesville that he’s “excited about the matchup. Obviously everybody knows what’s coming,” and the two exchanged friendly tweets over the summer.

Meanwhile, Cooper called it a “fun week.” He’s had a lot of them of late with at least 100 receiving yards in five straight games going back to the end of last season, tying another Alabama record.

Amari Cooper’s last five games
Opponent, Catches-Yards, TDs

Auburn 6-178 1
Oklahoma 9-121 0
West Virginia 12-130, 0
Florida Atlantic 13-189 1
Southern Miss 8-135 1

Cooper’s also had just one reception in the fourth quarter this season (a 10-yard gain against West Virginia) as quarterback Blake Sims has come out firing to his favorite receiver.

“I think the best cornerback I went against in my college career was probably Aaron Colvin from Oklahoma,” Cooper said. “He wasn’t playing man-to-man against me every play or sticking me every play, but just watching him on film, he was really, really quick and a ballhawk.

“I’m just trying to be a really, really great player, and I’m a firm believer that you get what you work for so I know that I have to go out and practice really, really hard everyday, and that’s really tough. And that’s what motivates me.”