Earlier in January, we broke down the potential heirs to AJ McCarron's throne as Alabama's starting quarterback.
On Tuesday, another contender emerged from a school 300 miles southeast of Tuscaloosa.
Jacob Coker—a 6'5", 230-pound rising redshirt junior for the Florida State Seminoles—was granted his release and reportedly received an in-home visit from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, according to Ben Thomas of AL.com.
Coker is on schedule to graduate in May and would be immediately eligible wherever he transfers. The SEC instituted a policy in 2011 that banned one-year graduate transfers, but since Coker has two years of eligibility remaining, that rule doesn't apply to him.
So what does this mean for Alabama's quarterback race if Coker—a Mobile, Ala., native who tore his meniscus in November—transfers to Tuscaloosa?
It means it's going to be more crowded, that's for sure. Blake Sims, Alec Morris, Parker McLeod, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell are all in-house and expected to take shots that the job. Redshirt freshman Bateman and true freshman Cornwell are the front-runners.
|Alabama's 2014 QB Race|
|Player||Year||Height||Weight||Career Passing Yards|
|Blake Sims||RS Senior||6'0"||202||244|
|Jacob Coker*||RS Junior||6'5"||230||295|
|Alec Morris||RS Sophomore||6'3"||230||0|
|Parker McLeod||RS Freshman||6'3"||193||0|
|Cooper Bateman||RS Freshman||6'3"||208||0|
|David Cornwell||True Freshman||6'5"||241||0|
|* - Potential transfer from FSU|
That would change from the moment Coker steps foot on campus.
Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin wouldn't bring Coker in unless they felt he had a chance to be the guy from Day 1.
He certainly developed quite a cult following with the players in Tallahassee.
Equipped with a big arm and precision accuracy, Coker pushed eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston all the way to the final week of practice before losing the battle, according to CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman.
"He's definitely a big quarterback," wide receiver Rashad Greene said at media day for the BCS National Championship Game, according to CollegePressBox.com (subscription required). "He has a strong arm. He can run, he can use his legs and he's a smart guy. He has a pinpoint ball. He's a great quarterback."
Good enough to receive attention from Saban and vault Coker into front-runner status in the Crimson Tide quarterback race.
But he'll still have to actually win the job.
Despite having a solid reputation as a difference-maker at quarterback, he's still only thrown for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception during his first two seasons of eligibility with Florida State. That would make him the most accomplished piece of Alabama's quarterback puzzle, but still far from a sure thing until the coaching staff sees him practice.
Coker would make it hard for some of the underdogs to make an impression. Bateman enrolled early last year and was a 4-star prospect in the Class of 2013. He was the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in his class.
He was "the next big thing" last year, but lost that title to Cornwell this January.
Cornwell enrolled this month and is the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2014. He's recovering from knee surgery that ended his senior year in high school early and is rehabbing for spring practice. He's got a big arm that can stretch the field, which Alabama does often off of play action.
There are only so many practice snaps to go around. Bateman and Cornwell are the favorites, but if Coker enrolls, the rest of the pack will struggle to earn meaningful looks in spring practice.
Coker has the talent and will have the opportunity to start right away if he transfers to Alabama. His presence will also make it harder for any of the other quarterbacks to spring the depth chart upset.
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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