Alabama QB Jacob Coker Has Career Moment and Night in National Championship Game

Jacob Coker is a member of two elite Tuscaloosa fraternities. Monday night was the public initiation into both. The first called for the starting quarterback to win a National Championship. Alabama, led by the fifth-year senior transfer, held on to capture the 16th school title by defeating the Clemson Tigers 45-40 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

He is President and standard bearer of the second distinguished brotherhood.  Jacob Coker established a new school record winning the 14th game as a starter with no losses.  His jersey number matched total eclipsed the 12-0 mark set by former Tide signal caller Steadman Shealy in 1979.  On a night when his best was needed the 6-5, 232 pound Mobile native (St. Paul’s HS) delivered by throwing for a career high 335 yards and two touchdowns in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Coker hooked up with the Offensive Player of the Game, O.J. Howard, for touchdown completions of 53 and 51 along with receptions of 25 and 62.  His 208 receiving yards was a school record for a tight end and surpassed the bowl game milestone of 178 recorded by wide receiver Ray Perkins vs. the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1967 Sugar Bowl.   Additionally, he threw a 25-yard pass to Ardarius Stewart to begin a fourth quarter drive.  After two Derrick Henry rushing attempts, Coker tossed a 38-yard pass down the right sideline to Stewart on third down and 11 trailing 24-21 in the third quarter.  Four plays later Adam Griffith kicked a 33-yard field goal to tie the game.  He opened the second stanza with a 29-yard pass to Richard Mullaney.  The permanent team captain completed 16 of 25 attempts with seven being explosive plays (over 20 yards) and survived four first half sacks.

Performing on the grandest stage of college football, Coker achieved a dream envisioned since childhood.  He has a country boy persona merged with an Elvis Presley inflection in the verbal delivery.  Questions persisted about Coker’s abilities.  Swirling amidst the regional doubters, national pundits casting frequent aspersions and a third-game benching versus Ole Miss, he exuded confidence and persevered by continuing to develop over the entire season.  Ascension into the hearts and minds of the Alabama Crimson Tide (no. 1, 14-1, 7-1) fans was gradual.  Winning has earned Coker a lifetime of cache in the form of adoration from those favoring  crimson and white.  Even the most ardent detractors are prone to applaud the accomplished quarterback now.     

Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin testified to the progress in post-game comments, “I think Jake is a great story.  If you finish your season with five games in a row without throwing an interception, I think you’re going to win a lot of games that way.  His completion percentage in the last two months of the year I think was 11 percent higher than it was earlier in the year.  It is a credit to him.  He continued to get better, win this team over and make a lot of plays.  He made a lot of critical plays tonight.”  His two-game playoff totals are 41-of-55 for 621 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.     

BamaMag.com spoke to the ultra-competitive quarterback after the collegiate career ending exclamation point victory over the Clemson Tigers (no. 2, 14-1, 8-0) and exceptional performance in the National Championship Game.

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