Editor's note: The 2013 season was an incredible year for quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference. There was a Heisman winner (Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel), the conference's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns (Georgia's Aaron Murray) and a two-time national champion (Alabama's AJ McCarron). Then there was Auburn's Nick Marshall, LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Missouri's James Franklin. Nearly all of those aforementioned signal-callers have departed, however. Still, someone will rise to the occasion to fill those spots, and that's why we're here to take stock of them as we head into the summer, counting them down from 14 to 1. Note that proven performers, even if they were not the unquestioned starter last season, figures heavily into these rankings. We continue with Day 7 of the countdown.
It's funny: Alabama finds itself in nearly the exact same spot Auburn did last season when it comes to the quarterback position.
Like the Tigers, the Crimson Tide had a quarterback battle this spring that, if the general consensus is right, meant little. Yes, Blake Sims, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris went through the spring and tried to separate themselves — just as Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier did on the Plains one year ago. But both those competitions had the respective candidates resting one eye up, as a transfer (not even on campus yet) was dubbed by many as the likely starter come the season opener.
It happened for Nick Marshall; will the same hold true for Jacob Coker?
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Coker, who hails from Mobile, Alabama, spent the past three years at Florida State. He redshirted in 2011 and saw limited snaps behind EJ Manuel in 2012. When Manuel departed, Coker pushed Jameis Winston to the brink before his fellow Alabama native won the starting job. (And we all know how that turned out for Winston and the Seminoles — a Heisman Trophy for Winston and a crystal football for the team, its first national championship since 1999.) After losing out to Winston, things only got worse for Coker, suffering a season-ending knee injury in November that had him on crutches as the Seminoles celebrated their BCS title.
Now, Coker is a member of the Crimson Tide, joining the team earlier this month after graduating from Florida State. According to AL.com, Coker hasn't wasted any time getting his feet back under him, spending time with David Morris, the same quarterback coach who tutored AJ McCarron during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Aside from the fact none of the other three quarterbacks distanced themselves during the spring, there's another factor working in Coker's favor: every player on the Crimson Tide's offense is still familiarizing himself with the scheme brought in by new coordinator Lane Kiffin.
Could Sims, Bateman or Morris end up emerging during fall camp to spoil Coker's arrival?
It's certainly possible. But continuing the parallels with Marshall last season, all signs point to Coker winning the job.
So expect to see him in the starting lineup when Alabama opens the season in the Georgia Dome versus West Virginia on Aug. 30.