SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.
Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.
71. Jacob Coker, Jr., QB, Alabama
He’s the best player we’ve never seen play. At least that’s what most media folk — and the Alabama faithful — is expecting out of the Florida State transfer who’s projected to replace A.J. McCarron as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback.
At a program recently directed by national championship-winning pocket passers and game managers, a label most quarterbacks find disrespectful, Coker delivers a new wrinkle to Alabama’s between-the-tackles approach. He has escapability outside the pocket, an impressive arm and according to Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, ‘much more talent than anything they’ve had’ in Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban.
High praise for a quarterback who hasn’t made a single significant throw at the collegiate level.
Decision-making under center and productivity on third down is going to determine how far the Crimson Tide go this season and Coker’s a player Saban has yet to see throw live. He reminded us of that during spring meetings and therefore has not revealed his hand on naming a starter. The tools are there for Coker, but the unknown is how quickly he’ll be able to gel in the passing game with Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and O.J. Howard.
Fluidity’s a crucial element in the Crimson Tide’s new scheme under offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and it’ll be interesting to see how Coker fits into a run-geared attack should he beat out redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman and senior Blake Sims as Alabama’s No. 1 this fall.
2013 statistics: As Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston’s primary backup, Coker threw for 250 yards in limited action.
2014 projection: Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry will shoulder most of the offensive burden, but 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns is a viable goal for the projected first-year starting quarterback.
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