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January 26, 2014

QB Jacob Coker signs with Alabama

Jacob Coker has entered the Crimson Tide's quarterback competition.

The Mobile native and former Florida State quarterback has signed to play at the University of Alabama, the school announced Sunday.

He is expected to enroll at UA in the summer after completing his undergraduate degree at FSU. Coker has been at FSU the past three seasons and was granted a release from his scholarship earlier this month.

"We think a lot of Jake and we are excited to have him join our team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a university release. "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 must graduate from FSU to be eligible to play for the Crimson Tide this fall and not be required to sit out a season per NCAA rules. He is expected to complete his undergraduate degree in the spring semester and enroll at UA this summer. He will be a redshirt junior this fall and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coker steps into new coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense and into a competition for starting duties with current quarterbacks Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, Blake Sims, Parker McLeod and true freshman David Cornwell.

While Coker's potential transfer had been rumored for months, Coker made it official following a visit to UA's campus this past weekend.

"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 was in a battle for the starting quarterback job at Florida State with Jameis Winston until midway through preseason practice. Winston went on to lead FSU to a national championship and win the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

"It's one of the toughest decisions I've had to go through," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters after announcing Winston as the starter in late August. "We truly have two very good quarterbacks and I feel comfortable with both in the game."

Once Coker lost out on the starting job, the speculation began about a transfer. Winston is not eligible for the NFL draft until 2015.

Coker was 18 of 36 passing for 250 yards and one interception in mop-up duty for FSU this past season. He played in four games as the backup quarterback to eventual first-round pick EJ Manuel in 2012. He redshirted as a freshman in 2011.

"I could hear the excitement in his voice when I spoke to him (Sunday)," said Steve Mask, head coach at St. Paul's Episcopal School where Coker starred in high school. Mask was an assistant coach when Coker was the starting quarterback.

"He's a competitor and most of all he's a great kid," he said. He's an Alabama kid, he's going to represent the University of Alabama well."

-Reach D.C. Reeves at 205-722-0196 or dc.reeves@tuscaloosanews.com.



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