Former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker will transfer to Alabama, giving the Tide an important weapon that could be the key to replacing departing senior A.J. McCarron, as first reported by Tim Watts of Bama Online. Coker will be eligible to play immediately after graduating from Florida State. Multiple media outlets have confirmed the report.
Coker was the backup to Heisman winner Jameis Winston on the national champion Seminoles, completing 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards with one interception and zero touchdowns. Winston and Coker actually battled for the starting job during pre-season camp, with the redshirt freshman coming out on top.
A three-star prospect coming out of St. Paul's Episcopal (Ala.) High School in Mobile, the move will be a return home for Coker, who nearly committed to the Tide coming out of high school.
Alabama starting quarterback A.J. McCarron won two national titles during his time with the Tide, and Coker will likely have to battle for a starting job again with the Tide, this time against rising senior Blake Sims. The two are the only quarterbacks on Alabama's roster who have thrown collegiate passes -- Sims completed 18 of 29 for 167 yards with two touchdowns in the 2013 season.
Through this move, Coker has managed to change his status from backup on one of the main national title contenders to likely starter on one of the main national title contenders, and you could argue he's moving to an even better situation. Unlike Florida State, Alabama brings back their entire rushing attack, as all six running backs who received carries for the Tide in 2013 (including T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry) will return. Leading receiver Amari Cooper returns (as do DeAndrew White, Christion Jones and O.J. Howard), and only one starting offensive lineman has to be replaced.
The transfer can only strengthen the Tide's spot as one of the favorites for their own conference as well as the nation at large, as quarterback is one of the few question marks on the Alabama roster. It's entirely possible that Coker ends up squaring off against his old Seminole teammates in a playoff game this postseason.
The move was prematurely announced by Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood, who mentioned Coker's arrival on an Alabama radio program Friday. The folks at Roll Bama Roll were considerably excited by the news.
If Coker joining the team is the plan, a guy of his talent level isn't coming in to sit on the bench.
"I've never had anybody with his size who throws it as well as he does," said FSU QB coach Randy Sanders who's been around big-time programs since his days as a Tennessee player in the mid-80s with the Vols star-crossed quarterback Tony Robinson. "Jake has a really quick release with tremendous arm strength. Rarely does it not spiral or not go where he wants it to go."
Asked if Coker's arm is even better than Winston, the resident Heisman winner, Sanders paused for a few breaths before saying, "Coker's arm is kind of at a different level. Jameis has a very special arm, and this isn't any knock against Jameis, but Jake's probably the best I've seen in 25 years at throwing it."