- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The rumors have swirled for months, and on Wednesday, Florida State made it official: Quarterback Jacob Coker is leaving.
The redshirt sophomore pushed Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the starting job until the final week of fall camp, but he spent all of 2013 as a backup before injuring his knee and missing the final five games of the season.
Coker was a three-star recruit out of high school, but his combination of athleticism and a strong arm have already generated buzz about his pro potential. What was missing was playing time. He figures to find that elsewhere, with numerous reports suggesting Alabama as his most likely destination.
For Florida State, Coker’s decision doesn’t really change much on the depth chart, but it does put a bigger spotlight on Winston’s decision to continue his baseball career this spring.
Winston opens practice with Florida State’s baseball team Friday, and he’s expected to compete for a job as the team’s closer. He was solid in a relief role last year -- 17 appearances with a 3.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts -- but that was before he had a national championship and a Heisman Trophy under his belt.
A potential injury on the baseball field certainly makes Winston’s decision risky, and with Coker out of the picture, there’s not a substantial safety net for the Seminoles football team.
FSU will open spring practice with Sean Maguire second on the depth chart. A redshirt freshman in 2013, Maguire appeared in seven games, completing 13 of 21 passes for 116 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
At the moment, there are no other scholarship quarterbacks with playing experience on the roster, though Class of 2014 QBs J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic) and Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) are both committed to FSU and John Franklin III worked on the scout team for the Seminoles in 2013. Franklin's future at quarterback, however, has been a topic of debate since his recruitment.
If all goes smoothly and Winston stays healthy, however, it’s a moot point. But Coker is the second quarterback to transfer from Florida State in less than a year -- Clint Trickett is now at West Virginia -- meaning a position once loaded with depth is now a bit more precarious moving forward.
933dHeather Dinich and Andrea Adelson