For this edition of SEC Debate, some of the SDS staff considers an apparently one-sided question about the conference’s two biggest offensive stars.


Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS): Amari Cooper

Such a brutally tough question. It’s more difficult to dominate a game as a receiver, which is why just two wideouts — Tim Brown and Desmond Howard — have won the Heisman Trophy since 1935. Amari Cooper at least deserves a trip to this year’s ceremony if he keeps it up. I’d argue that what he’s done on an individual scale is greater than Gurley mainly because Georgia’s star ballcarrier has more opportunities to flourish. Cooper just dominated one of college football’s top cornerbacks in Vernon Hargreaves and I’m not sure Gurley would have the same success against a top-flight rush defense.

Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Amari Cooper

This is a win-win question, but right now, nobody in the country is playing his position better than Amari Cooper. Cooper leads the country in receptions and yards. Florida knew it was coming, and they still couldn’t stop it. The better question may be who’s better between Julio Jones and Cooper. Now, that would be a debate. We knew Cooper would have a nice year under Lane Kiffin, but he’s on pace to catch 129 passes for 1,965 yards and 15 touchdowns. Todd Gurley is a big-time player, but Amari Cooper is playing the position unlike any other SEC player in recent memory.

Ethan Levine (@EthanLevineSDS): Amari Cooper

Alabama wideout Amari Cooper is the best player at his position of anyone in the SEC, including Georgia tailback Todd Gurley. Cooper has never played with a quarterback considered among the best in the nation, and faces double teams on most snaps every week, yet has never wavered in posting huge numbers on a consistent basis. There’s a reason no receiver in Crimson Tide history has scored as many touchdowns as Cooper has with most of this season remaining. There’s a reason Cooper has amassed at least 100 yards in six straight games. It’s because he cannot be stopped by any one player in the SEC. This is not a knock on Gurley, but there are a lot of talented backs in the SEC. No other receiver in the conference can do what Cooper can, which makes this decision an easy one.

Jason Hall (@JasonHallSDS): Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper. Thus far, he’s been consistently dominant in each game and has made defensive backs look foolish. He’s on pace to pass all of his season totals from 2013 this weekend and shows no sign of slowing down. Both players benefit from the presence of talented teammates, however, Cooper has yet to be slowed down.

Chris Walsh (@CrimsonWalsh): Amari Cooper

As impressive as Gurley has been — and he looked absolutely terrific against Clemson — Cooper is off to the greatest start not only an Alabama receiver has ever had, but it’s the best in the history of the conference. He leads the nation in average receptions and receiving yards per game, and needs to average just 43.2 yards per game the rest of the season to top 1,000. You could have an argument with someone about if Gurley was the best running back in the league this season, but there’s no doubt that Cooper has been the best wide receiver in the nation.

Drew Laing (@DLaingSDS): Amari Cooper

Don’t get me wrong, Gurley is an absolute beast, but I think there’s a much bigger separation between Cooper and the rest of the receivers in the SEC. No one comes close to him in my opinion. With Gurley, clearly he is the best running back, but with guys like Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, Alex Collins, etc., I think the gap is a lot closer. If you need an example of just how dominant Cooper is, just look at what he did against Vernon Hargreaves and the Gators.

Brett Weisband (@WeisbandSDS): Amari Cooper

Todd Gurley might be the most physically dominating player in the country, and he’s putting up massive per-carry numbers. However, he’s doing it as part of a group effort to bludgeon teams. Amari Cooper, meanwhile, is looking the part of Heisman-worthy receiver, and he’s doing it as the only pass-catching threat that opposing defenses have to worry about. Cooper has 31 more catches than his next closest teammate, and no one else at the top of the national leaderboard for receptions comes close to that. Lane Kiffin might be force-feeding Cooper (OK he definitely is), but that makes it even more impressive that he’s able to reel in 11 catches per game with defenses knowing the ball is coming his way. Once he does get his hands on the ball, Cooper has been magic, making defenders miss and then screaming past them once they do. It’s one thing to bowl defenders over, as Gurley does. It’s another level when those defenders can’t even get their hands on Cooper. 

Jordan Cox (@Jordan_Cox): Amari Cooper

I think it’s Amari Cooper. There’s not as much depth around the SEC at wide receiver than there is at running back. Cooper has a lot of talent around him at wideout, but not as much talent, in my opinion, as Gurley has around him with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Cooper has been targeted a lot early this season by Blake Sims, and he’s shown his versatility lining up both outside and in the slot. HIs speed and quickness make him impossible to defend. He can run past you on a go route or beat you with a move on a quick route. Cooper’s easily one of the top NFL prospects in the league.