DESTIN, Fla. | The speculation became rampant the day Jacob Coker made the decision to transfer from Florida State to Alabama. He's never taken a snap in an Alabama practice, but that hasn't stopped almost everyone from declaring him the starter, or at the very least the favorite to start the 2014 season.
Don't count Nick Saban among that group. Speaking with reporters at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings, Saban went as far to say he hasn't seen Coker throw a pass since 2010.
"Everybody's way ahead of me on that one," Saban said. "I haven't even seen the guy throw a ball since he was in high school. We recruited him when he was in high school and saw work out and saw him throw. We saw him in high school. I have not seen the guy throw a ball yet. Or even move around yet."
Alabama offered Coker, who arrived on campus this month, late during his senior season at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile, but he opted to remain true to his word and kept his commitment to Florida State.
Coker had surgery to repair meniscus damage in his knee last November following an injury in a game against Wake Forest.
Beyond not seeing him throw, Saban said Coker must compete with the quarterbacks on the roster that went through spring practice, namely Blake Sims and Cooper Bateman.
"In fairness to the players that we have, who worked hard in the spring and had a good offseason like Blake Sims and all the other quarterbacks we have who've made progress and improvement, they all deserve to have an opportunity to compete and will continue to compete and we'll have a competition that will evolve over the summer and in fall camp and then we'll make a decision about who we think will give us the best opportunity to win," Saban said. "I think that's what is required of us as coaches to try and do and be fair and honest with everybody."
When it comes to running backs and a crowded list of contenders competing for carries, Saban didn't mention any one back of ahead of another, just that T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake bring different talents.
"I'd rather look at it like we have three really good running backs," Saban said. "I think all are a little bit different in style. I think they've all been very productive at some point in a game. I don't think it's necessary to compare them at all. They all work hard, do a good job and what's best for the team. I think they can all contribute in a positive way to our team."
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.
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