Jake Coker is going from backing up Jameis Winston to trying to replace AJ McCarron. The former Florida State quarterback is transferring to Alabama and will be eligible to play next season.
Coach Nick Saban announced Sunday that Coker has signed with the Crimson Tide.
“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.”
Coker, who will be a junior next season, is on target to graduate in May. NCAA rules allow graduate students to transfer without sitting out a season, as usually required.
Coker’s high school coach, Steve Mask of St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala., said Coker was “ecstatic” about going to Alabama after a weekend visit to campus.
“I was very impressed with everything on my visit to Tuscaloosa,” Coker said. “I feel very comfortable with the coaches and the players, and I’m looking forward to getting started at Alabama and competing. 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.”
Coker competed with Winston for the starting job at Florida State last the spring and preseason, and by all accounts put up a good fight. Winston was just too good. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman and Coker played sparingly for the Seminoles.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Coker completed 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards and an interception. He tore cartilage in his knee on Nov. 9 against Wake Forest and missed the rest of the season. He was still on crutches at the national championship game.
“He’s a class act,” Mask said. “A humble kid. Everything you’d want in a player.”
Coker will be tossed into the mix of Alabama quarterbacks looking to replace McCarron, the departed Heisman finalist and three-year Tide starter who also played at St. Paul’s.
“In some ways they are very similar,” Mask said. “Both have tremendous leadership skills.”
The only other quarterback on Alabama’s roster who has thrown a pass in college is Blake Sims, who will be a senior. Alec Morris will be a sophomore next season after getting a little game action as a redshirt freshman in 2013. Highly touted recruit Cooper Bateman redshirted this past season. Incoming star recruit David Cornwell is already enrolled in school and expected to participate in Alabama’s spring practice.
Whichever quarterback wins the job will be leading another loaded offense. Alabama returns star T.J. Yeldon and promising Derrick Henry at running back, receiver Amari Cooper and tight end O.J. Howard.