How Landing Ex-FSU QB Jacob Coker Would Shake Up Alabama's 2014 QB Battle

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2014

Former FSU QB Jacob Coker
Former FSU QB Jacob CokerStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

Earlier in January, we broke down the potential heirs to AJ McCarron's throne as Alabama's starting quarterback.

On Tuesday, another contender emerged from a school 300 miles southeast of Tuscaloosa.

Jacob Coker—a 6'5", 230-pound rising redshirt junior for the Florida State Seminoles—was granted his release and reportedly received an in-home visit from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, according to Ben Thomas of

Phil Sears/Associated Press/Associated Press

Coker is on schedule to graduate in May and would be immediately eligible wherever he transfers. The SEC instituted a policy in 2011 that banned one-year graduate transfers, but since Coker has two years of eligibility remaining, that rule doesn't apply to him.

So what does this mean for Alabama's quarterback race if Coker—a Mobile, Ala., native who tore his meniscus in November—transfers to Tuscaloosa?

It means it's going to be more crowded, that's for sure. Blake Sims, Alec Morris, Parker McLeod, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell are all in-house and expected to take shots that the job. Redshirt freshman Bateman and true freshman Cornwell are the front-runners.

Alabama's 2014 QB Race
PlayerYearHeightWeightCareer Passing Yards
Blake SimsRS Senior6'0"202244
Jacob Coker*RS Junior6'5"230295
Alec MorrisRS Sophomore6'3"2300
Parker McLeodRS Freshman6'3"1930
Cooper BatemanRS Freshman6'3"2080
David CornwellTrue Freshman6'5"2410
* - Potential transfer from FSU

That would change from the moment Coker steps foot on campus.

Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin wouldn't bring Coker in unless they felt he had a chance to be the guy from Day 1. 

He certainly developed quite a cult following with the players in Tallahassee. 

Equipped with a big arm and precision accuracy, Coker pushed eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston all the way to the final week of practice before losing the battle, according to's Bruce Feldman.

"He's definitely a big quarterback," wide receiver Rashad Greene said at media day for the BCS National Championship Game, according to (subscription required). "He has a strong arm. He can run, he can use his legs and he's a smart guy. He has a pinpoint ball. He's a great quarterback."

Good enough to receive attention from Saban and vault Coker into front-runner status in the Crimson Tide quarterback race.

But he'll still have to actually win the job.

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 5: Jacob Coker #14 of the Florida State Seminoles looks for a hole during the second half on October 5, 2013 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida. Coker went to score and led the Seminoles to a 63-0 victory over the T
Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

Despite having a solid reputation as a difference-maker at quarterback, he's still only thrown for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception during his first two seasons of eligibility with Florida State. That would make him the most accomplished piece of Alabama's quarterback puzzle, but still far from a sure thing until the coaching staff sees him practice.

Coker would make it hard for some of the underdogs to make an impression. Bateman enrolled early last year and was a 4-star prospect in the Class of 2013. He was the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in his class.

He was "the next big thing" last year, but lost that title to Cornwell this January.

Cornwell enrolled this month and is the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2014. He's recovering from knee surgery that ended his senior year in high school early and is rehabbing for spring practice. He's got a big arm that can stretch the field, which Alabama does often off of play action. 

There are only so many practice snaps to go around. Bateman and Cornwell are the favorites, but if Coker enrolls, the rest of the pack will struggle to earn meaningful looks in spring practice.

Coker has the talent and will have the opportunity to start right away if he transfers to Alabama. His presence will also make it harder for any of the other quarterbacks to spring the depth chart upset.

*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of, all recruiting information courtesy of and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.


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