This is part three of a 20-day series. Over the next 20 days, Dr. SEC will publish a scouting report on 20 different recruits who recently signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
(Listen to interview with Jacob Coker’s former high school coach and AU director of football operations while you read article)
When I am preparing a scouting report for a high school recruit, the process is simple. I sit down and watch countless hours of game film as I evaluate the positives and negatives I see on their game film. From that, I rank and project how the high school recruit will perform as a collegiate athlete.
However, with former FSU quarterback, Jacob Coker, it was not that simple. He is three years removed from his high school film and has progressed light years by all accounts.
His stats while at FSU do not tell the true story of Coker either. He only played mop-up duty, while the Seminoles were trying not to run up the score any further. As a result, he was handcuffed inside the offense.
I had read the clippings of the Seminoles coaching staff marveling over his talent and how he took this years Heisman trophy winner, Jameis Winston, to the wire in their quarterback competition.
However, I needed more. I contacted his former high school football coach Jimmy Perry, who also worked for the Auburn Tigers football department for nine and half years.
I then contacted Palm Beach Post sports reporter Tom D’Angelo, and, by the time I got off the phone with these two men, I am fully persuaded that Coker has all the needed ingredients to be the next great Alabama quarterback.
As I was closing out my interview with Coach Perry, he stated, “The best way I can describe Jacob is that he is the kind of kid you want your daughter to bring home.” Everyone I spoke to this week about Coker arrived at the same conclusion. He is not only a player with NFL potential, but he has hall of fame character.
He is going to do the right thing both on and off the football field. This is not a young man who is transferring because of character issues. Instead, he is a young man who gained the respect of every person he has interacted with.
For Coker to succeed at Alabama, he will have to come prepared to work from day one. However, by all accounts, that doesn’t appear to be an issue. Coach Perry said of his competiveness and work ethic, “He is the kind of guy, if you got six, he is going to go and get seven.”
This work ethic is evident and his progression as a quarterback thus far. Coker played in a wing-T offense prior to his senior year at St. Paul’s Episcopal High School. As a result, he was not given the opportunity to show and develop his passing skills.
In his senior year, the Saints switched to a pro-style offense, and Coker threw for 1,508 yards and 16 touchdowns. Since that start of his senior year, his game has been completely transformed. So much, that the Florida State coaching staff would declare he had the strongest arm on the team, despite having two future 1st round draft picks.
In other words, Coker has worked hard to get where he is, and he will push himself even further to become the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide.
You don’t have to watch film long, before you notice how athletic Coker is for his size. According to Perry, it has always been that way. “Most people don’t realize he was the Class 5A basketball Player of the Year in the city of Mobile. That tells you how athletic he is. To be the player of the year in a city as rich in talent as Mobile.”
Coker is the rare athlete who, with time, can do whatever you ask of him. He might have been a three-star coming out of high school, but if he was reevaluated today, he would likely get five.
While interviewing Perry, he constantly spoke of how bright Coker was. The fact that he will finish his degree in May with two years of elgibilty left proves that fact. He will need to do more in less time because the other quarterbacks fighting for the job are already on campus.
However, it is likely that he is already breaking down the playbook while still at Florida State. He will arrive on campus well versed in the Crimson Tide offense. He might be behind as of now, but I am guessing he will make up major ground in the offseason.
Coker could have the strongest arm in the SEC his first day on campus. Not only does Coker have the kind of size most offensive coordinators only dream of, he has an arm with very few peers. He can make any throw you ask of him, and he makes it look effortless.
He has a quick release and the arm strength to get the football to his receivers in a hurry but has the ability and understanding of when to take steam off of the pass. He also has great touch on his deep ball.
After watching film and speaking to those who have seen Coker up close, I can’t imagine a scenario that he does not win the starting quarterback position this fall. He reminds me of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger but with far greater athleticism.
I would not be surprised if the Crimson Tide have back-to-back first round draft picks at the quarterback position with David Cornwell following behind Coker. In other words, the days of game managers at the quarterback position for Alabama are a thing of the past.
Dr. SEC has a weekly radio program, The Waiting Room with Dr. SEC, that broadcast on 14 stations across five states and also has a daily radio program that airs on Bama Sports Radio. His daily writings are syndicated to newspapers and magazines. Visit his website at www.drsec.org and follow him on twitter at twitter.com/thedrsec