Coker starts his Alabama career on the spot

Ben Cook

June 24, 2014 at 10:23 am.


Despite Alabama's Signing Day success, FSU QB transfer Jacob Coker may be the biggest get for the Crimson Tide as it relates to the 2014 season. (Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports)

Jacob Coker is stepping into a tough situation.

He’s not been handed the starting quarterback job at Alabama, although most believe the former backup quarterback at Florida State will be the man who steps in to replace AJ McCarron, arguably the winningest quarterback in Alabama history, who is now playing for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

Coker was expected to be the starting quarterback for Florida State last season until Jameis Winston took Tallahassee by storm and relegated him to backup duties. Winston then proceeded to win the Heisman Trophy and lead the Seminoles to the national championship.

But Coker has graduated from FSU and transferred to Alabama to finish his collegiate eligibility and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With McCarron gone, the only other candidates are little-used senior Blake Sims and redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman. Although Coker will have to win the starting job on the field in the fall, the consensus of opinion is that he will.

In case you’ve forgotten, Coker was a 3-star prospect (whatever that truly means) when he came out of St. Paul’s Episcopal High School in Mobile. He had great numbers as a senior but he chose to go to Florida State instead of staying in-state.

Now he has returned to his home state to finish his career. But one big question remains: can he win the starting job? And if he does, can he take over McCarron’s role as the Crimson Tide leader?

“We think a lot of Jake and we are excited to have him join our team,” said Nick Saban when Coker decided to come to Alabama. “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.”

“I feel very comfortable with the coaches and the players, and I’m looking forward to getting started at Alabama and competing,” said Coker at the time. “I also want to thank my coaches and teammates at Florida State. I had a great experience there and I’m excited to build on that at Alabama.”

You have to feel for Sims, who waited for his chance patiently for McCarron to finish his illustrious career. Then just when he thought it would be his time, a highly-touted transfer comes in from the defending national champions — and most insiders believe Sims will once again be relegated to backup duties.

Of course Saban and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Lane Kiffin haven’t handed Coker the starting job, but they have made it clear that Coker will be a prime contender to become the team’s signal caller.

“Blake had a really good spring, and he did a really good job in the scrimmages,” Saban said after the spring game. “I think there’s a lot of things he could do to be an effective quarterback that he didn’t do in this game today. We recruited a guy, and Blake knows this, and Blake embraced the guy before the game, but they’re going to compete through the summer and through the fall. But it’s also our goal for the quarterback to be the distributor of the ball.”

McCarron filled that bill perfectly, can Coker do the same?  If not, it would appear Sims would finally get the chance he has been waiting for since he arrived on campus.

 It’s clear that Coker didn’t transfer to Alabama for his senior season to sit on the bench.

“Let’s be honest,” Coker told Alex Scarborough of, “You don’t go to school to sit on the bench and high-five everybody. I’m more than appreciative of the whole situation. But heck, if I wanted to do that again, if I wanted to sit the bench, I would have stayed there.

Davis Morris, a known quarterback guru who has worked with Coker for five years and also has worked with quarterbacks McCarron, Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley, believes that Coker is ready to fulfill his destiny as a quarterback and he feels his job is to make sure the FSU experience didn’t damage Coker’s confidence.

“You think you’re this good, but you’re not playing,” Morris said of Coker, “So you’re like, Am I? You still believe, but your faith takes a hit.”

Coker will have his chance to prove his confidence is just as high as when he first signed with Florida State once Alabama opens fall drills. He expects that he will win the starting job, which you like to see in a quarterback, but the Crimson Tide nation also expects Coker will win the job.

That’s why Coker is on the spot this fall.