Alabama is in the same predicament that caused a lot of commotion last season, locating a starting quarterback. Blake Sims surprised many in 2014 as a fifth-year senior, but he only had one year to prove himself. 2015 will shine its light on a new signal caller, however, the mystery continues as to who will step up and take command of the offense.
The task once again falls on senior Jake Coker, but interesting news is circling around sports media concerning two other players, Everett Golson and Braxton Miller
Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is a talented athlete. The 6-foot, 200-pound Golson played in 12 games last season and totaled 3,445 passing yards. He chimed in with 37 total touchdowns (29 passing, 8 rushing) and 14 interceptions on a 60 percent completion rating. Golson guided the Fighting Irish to an 8-5 record, culminating in a 31-28 victory over LSU in the 2014 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. He has a big time arm, but turnovers and academic issues have been a problem for Golson.
He’s thrown 20 interceptions in the two seasons he’s played (2012, 2014), and didn’t participate as a junior in 2013, due to an academic suspension from the program. Golson was readmitted to Notre Dame in December of 2013, but he couldn’t practice with the team. He’s graduated with a degree in Business, and wants to find a new home in college football.
Florida State and Georgia are the frontrunners for him, but LSU is also in the mix. ESPN’s college football reporter Brett McMurphy said that Alabama’s even shown interest in acquiring Golson. He and Notre Dame lost to Alabama in the 2013 national title game, 42-14.
The saga of Ohio State’s quarterback Braxton Miller continues. Will he stay or leave? This is a question that college football fans are asking, but have yet to receive an answer on. Miller compiled a 28-8 record as a starter for the Buckeyes. He totaled 5,292 passing yards with 54 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in three seasons. Miller is explosive as a runner, accounting for 3,054 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior is a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2012, 2013). A shoulder injury in the 2014 offseason set him back. He watched backups J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones lead Ohio State to a Big Ten Conference championship and a national title in the College Football Playoff.
Rumors have stated constantly about Miller seeking a transfer. LSU, Georgia, Florida State and Alabama have been the programs thrown into the conversation. He visits Alabama often to get treatments for his shoulder, and is good friends with former Alabama inside linebacker Trey DePriest. Ohio State’s head coach Urban Meyer doesn’t believe Miller wants to leave the team. Meyer said he hasn’t heard anything from Miller about seeking a transfer, and feels that he’s excited about being a Buckeye in 2015. Miller graduated on Sunday with a degree in Communications. The timetable on his decision should be soon.
Alabama’s senior quarterback Jake Coker was tabbed to be “the guy” last season. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Coker came to Alabama in May of 2014, after losing a quarterback battle to Jameis Winston at Florida State. He had roughly two to three months to get acquainted with the team and a different scheme under offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Coker saw action in seven games in 2014, as he threw for 403 yards with four touchdowns on a 64.4 completion percentage. With a year in the system, Coker looks more comfortable and has a better understanding of what’s being asked of him. He build chemistry last season with wide receivers Chris Black, Robert Foster, Raheem Falkins and ArDarius Stewart.
Coker had a productive spring, and did some good things in Alabama’s 2015 A-Day game. He completed 14 of 28 pass attempts for 183 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Coker has elite arm strength, but needs to quicken his delivery with the ball. David Cornwell, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett are all challenging Coker.
Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban has been impressed with Cornwell’s leadership, yet he’s still waiting for someone to take the bull by the horns. Coker looks to get it done, during the team’s summer conditioning program.
Life is a gamble. Sometimes one hits the jackpot, and there are occasions when suffering prevails. Everett Golson and Braxton Miller are two exceptional players, but is it worth the risk to bring in another graduate transfer? Is Alabama making a desperate leap at another backup quarterback from a national title team? Questions like these have individuals on the edge of their seats. For now, Coker is the guy that Saban will spend time on.
An approved academic waiver from SEC commissioner Mike Slive (or his successor) will determine if Golson comes to Alabama. A cat and mouse game will continue to stir in Columbus, Ohio, until Braxton Miller finally makes a decision. Alabama has the pieces in place for another run at a national championship, but who will be its quarterback?
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.