In Jacob Coker, or Jake as he's called by Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide just welcomed in a front-runner to win the starting job. It is not just about getting a front-runner. With Coker in the fold, the Tide have a quarterback in which the coaches believe.
"We think a lot of Jake and we are excited to have him join our team," Saban said in a statement. "He is not only an outstanding football player, but he is also a fine young man who we feel will be a great fit with our program at Alabama."
A release from Alabama made it official and now the wait will begin. Coker's set to graduate in the spring from Florida State, which means the big-armed Mobile, Ala., native will join the Crimson Tide in the summer hoping to become the guy.
In the meantime, Bama fans will have to wait and hope that Coker's continued rehab and individual training go well, while spring ball plays itself out. That means redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman, senior Blake Sims, possibly David Cornwell if the early enrollee is healthy, and the rest of the group will have to compete in spring, knowing another contender awaits.
More importantly, knowing that the waiting contender is someone the coaches brought in because they believed he could give them the best shot to win. Saban does not pull transfers to ride on the bench. Especially not on a roster loaded with talent and in need of every available scholarship. It makes far more sense for Alabama to add another true freshman than to take on a transfer who will not have a legitimate impact.
Saban's team is no stranger to transfers, they are just usually guys heading out after being buried on the depth chart. Or, the JUCO addition to fill a hole or pick up a player who failed to qualify initially at Alabama. The Tide do not have much experience, under Saban, with the transferring in of players expected to contribute from other collegiate rosters.
The addition of Coker is not about just getting a body. The Tide have bodies at quarterback, including three highly touted prospects who will compete in the spring.
No, the addition of Coker is about getting a starter. The Tide did not wait until spring was over to toy with the idea of grabbing the former Florida State backup. Saban and Lane Kiffin did not play it cool, waiting to see what the roster possessed before going out to get help. Nope, they decided to snatch up Coker now, before another school could; essentially sending the message that regardless of what happens in spring, the job is open come fall.
In Coker, the Tide landed a contender. With Cornwell coming off an October ACL tear and Coker enrolling over the summer, Alabama's fall quarterback competition is going to be far more intriguing than what the Tide show in the spring.