Quarterback Jacob Coker arrives in Tuscaloosa

Anniston StarMay 6, 2014 

ATLANTA -- Alabama fans can now rest easy.

Quarterback Jacob Coker has arrived in Tuscaloosa, is officially enrolled as a student at the University of Alabama and he has met with the head football coach.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban confirmed Coker's arrival during his latest Crimson Caravan stop on Tuesday.

"He got there (Monday), we had a meeting," Saban said. "We have him on a rehab program for what he needs to do in the conditioning program and we also have a meeting schedule so that he meets with and starts to learn the offense, because he is enrolled in school."

Don't read too much into the "rehab program" part. While Coker is coming off a knee injury that required season-ending surgery, Saban said Coker is "fine" health-wise and that Coker "hasn't had any issues or problems."

Learning the playbook as well as getting acclimated to his new teammates and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is paramount.

During the spring semester, Coker took a full load of coursework at Florida State, traveled from Tallahassee, Fla. to Mobile, Ala. to work with his private quarterback coach David Morris while also squeezing in a few trips to Tuscaloosa. Most notably, he was in town for A-Day.

"He came up here a few times and watched scrimmages, visited on the weekend," Saban said. "He's got plenty of time to sort of try to get adjusted. And I think the big thing is that our plan is that he can just stay focused on what he needs to do to be a good player. He needs to be himself and play quarterback the way he can play it. If he can do a good job of executing his offense, I think we've got good enough players around him that we can help him be successful and he can help us be successful."

Coker, who has finished his degree requirements at Florida State, headed to Tuscaloosa early to get a jump start on the quarterback competition that will heat up again when the team begins fall practice in August.

The rest of the team isn't scheduled to report for a few more weeks once summer conditioning and summer classes begin. But since Coker didn't have the luxury of the 15 practices in spring, he decided to skip Florida State's commencement ceremony for the opportunity to close the gap on his competitors.

Fifth-year senior Blake Sims, redshirt sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod and freshman David Cornwell all had the opportunity to showcase their talents for Kiffin, Saban and the rest of the coaching staff during spring practice.

And based on Saban's comments following A-Day, Sims will be Coker's biggest competition for the starting job. Sims has four-plus years of experience in Alabama's system.

But Coker may not be as behind as one thinks. During the latest SEC teleconference, Saban said the offense Coker learned at Florida State is "similar" to the one he'll have to pick up at Alabama.

"We're talking about learning a system so … when the opportunity comes in August that he's going to have a better chance of going out and feeling comfortable playing with confidence and developing the physical skills to implement the things we want to do, which is probably not as different as people would like to make them from what he has done," Saban said. "It's just the idea of terminology and understanding and feeling comfortable in the system that we have.

"The learning curve is going to be steep, but he's a bright, young guy."

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