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Jacob Coker's Transfer to Alabama Impacts 2014 SEC and National Title Race

Jacob Coker

Jacob Coker

Alabama is set to land one of the nation’s top signing classes in early February, but Nick Saban’s most important recruit of 2014 isn’t a freshman. Instead, that honor falls to Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker, who announced he will officially transfer to Alabama after completing his degree in Tallahassee.

Coker will graduate from Florida State in May and is immediately eligible to play in 2014.

Who is Jacob Coker?

Coker has spent the last three years at Florida State, serving as a backup to Jameis Winston and EJ Manuel. After redshirting his freshman season, Coker completed 3 of 5 passes for 45 yards and one touchdown in mop-up duty in 2012. As a result of Florida State’s dominant performance and big leads in the second half in 2013, Coker’s playing time increased. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards and one pick.

A knee injury suffered against Wake Forest prevented him from playing in the final five games of 2013. However, in a small sample size, Coker is averaging 14 yards per pass attempt and has completed 55 percent of his throws.

Coker wasn’t an elite prospect coming out of high school, ranking as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.

However, he was not an easy prospect to evaluate out of St. Paul’s Episcopal (Mobile, Ala.). Coker played in a wing-T offense until his senior season and finished his career by throwing for 1,508 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011.

Coker has good mobility for a quarterback that is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. During his senior year at St. Paul’s Episcopal, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry, while averaging 21.9 points per game as a member of the basketball team.

Obviously, it’s hard to evaluate a quarterback with zero career starts. However, there’s a lot to like about Coker.

At 6-foot-5, he has the size and arm strength coaches want in their quarterback. Coker also has good mobility and learned under a quarterback guru in Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. Also, Coker gave Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston a battle for the starting job in preseason practices.

Alabama’s Quarterback Battle

With Coker officially added to the roster, Alabama has six quarterbacks slated to battle for the top spot in spring practice.

Blake Sims has the most experience of any quarterback in Tuscaloosa, but all signs point to someone different starting in the opener against West Virginia.

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There’s also a wildcard factor to keep in mind. Alabama has a new offensive coordinator in Lane Kiffin, and it’s expected he will make a few tweaks to the offense.

Here’s a look at the quarterbacks and where they ranked in high school:

 

Year of Eligibility

Games Played at Alabama

Passes Thrown at Alabama

Recruiting Rank

Cooper Bateman

R-FR

0

0

Jacob Coker

JR

0 (11 at FSU)

0 (41 at FSU)

David Cornwell

FR

0

0

Parker McLeod

R-FR

0

0

Alec Morris

SO

1

0

Blake Sims

SR

23

39


Graduate Transfer Quarterbacks and Success

While there’s no shortage of hype surrounding Coker, there’s also no guarantee this will work out for Alabama.

In the recent history of graduate transfer quarterbacks, there are some success stories, but also a lot of duds.

 

Comp.

Att.

Comp. %

Yards

TDs

INTs

Rush Yds

Rush TD

W/L Record

Drew Allen, Syracuse

68

122

55.7

666

2

9

0

0

7-6 (2013)

Chazz Anderson, Buffalo

230

406

56.6

2,454

11

9

309

7

3-9 (2011)

Taylor Bennett, La. Tech

66

167

39.5

873

2

6

55

0

8-5 (2008)

Allan Bridgford, USM

112

207

54.1

1,133

6

11

-81

0

1-11 (2013)

Dayne Crist, Kansas

103

216

47.7

1,313

4

9

-66

0

1-11 (2012)

Kirby Freeman, Baylor

6

13

46.2

49

1

2

0

0

4-8 (2008)

Garrett Gilbert, SMU

268

506

52.9

2,932

15

15

346

8

7-6 (2012)

Nick Hirschman, Akron

3

8

53.3

162

3

0

-23

1

5-7 (2013)

Jacob Karam, Memphis

3

7

42.9

22

0

0

-16

0

3-9 (2013)

Ryan Katz, SDSU

99

163

60.7

1,348

13

4

287

4

9-4 (2012)

Adam Kennedy, Ark. St

218

315

69.2

2,363

11

6

524

4

8-5 (2013)

Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss

167

296

56.4

2,039

14

13

544

6

4-8 (2010)

Ben Mauk, Cincinnati

235

386

60.9

3,121

31

9

376

3

10-3 (2007)

Brandon Mitchell, NC State

86

151

57.0

1,011

7

6

274

2

3-9 (2013)

Danny O'Brien, Wisconsin

52

86

60.5

523

3

1

-82

0

8-6 (2012)

Greg Paulus, Syracuse

193

285

67.7

2,024

13

14

-12

1

4-8 (2009)

Sean Schroeder, Hawaii

175

344

50.9

1,878

11

12

-169

1

3-9 (2012)

Jameill Showers, UTEP

107

188

56.9

1,263

11

4

195

4

2-10 (2013)

Clint Trickett, W. Virginia

123

233

52.8

1,605

7

7

-29

1

4-8 (2013)

Jordan Webb, Colorado

144

265

54.3

1,434

8

8

-135

2

1-11 (2012)

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin

225

309

72.8

3,175

33

4

338

6

11-3 (2011)


Final Analysis

Alabama is loaded for another run at the national championship. With one of the nation’s top backfields and receiving corps returning, all that’s missing on offense is a quarterback. And of course, a left tackle must be found to replace Cyrus Kouandjio.

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If Coker is as good as advertised, then the Crimson Tide is landing their biggest (and most important recruit) for 2014. Alabama is picked as the No. 2 team in Athlon’s very early top 25 for next season and is a slight favorite to win the SEC West over Auburn.

However, there’s also the possibility this move could backfire for Nick Saban. With six quarterbacks on the roster, one or two could transfer after fall practice. And if Coker struggles, Alabama would be losing potential replacements.

This is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Crimson Tide. Coker has the talent to succeed in this offense. And it’s not like Coker is being asked to win games all on his own. After all, Alabama has one of the nation’s top defenses and supporting casts on offense. With two years of eligibility remaining, Coker is a better acquisition than a one-year graduate transfer.

There’s a lot of pressure on Coker’s shoulders to perform (and perform well right away), especially with Alabama in the thick of the SEC and national championship discussion for 2014. Despite the immense pressure on Coker’s right arm, all signs point to this being a potential move that plays a significant role in shaping the SEC and national championship picture.