After a December of behind-the-scenes turmoil that included a suspension for Iowa’s bowl game, it was reported that Marcus Coker would be back at the school and likely reinstated to the football program.
“Yes, the invitation is there for him to come back,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta was quoted as saying Dec. 31. “We’ll let this play out and see what happens.”
What happened, as it turns out, is the exact opposite of a return.
In a press release, the school announced that Coker “has withdrawn his application to enroll in spring semester classes.” Additionally, the release confirmed that Coker had asked for, and been granted a release from, his Iowa scholarship.
There was no statement from head coach Kirk Ferentz or any other school official contained in the release.
Suffice to say, the loss of Coker is a significant blow to the Hawkeyes’ offense in general and their running game in particular. Coker led the Hawkeyes in rushing during the regular season with 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns. The second-leading rusher? De’Andre Johnson with 79 yards. The only other player on the team to score a rushing touchdown this season was quarterback James Vandenberg, who had three of them.
Coker was a four-star member of Iowa’s 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in Hyattsville, Maryland, rated by Rivals.com as the No. 22 RB in the country. It’s unclear which schools Coker will consider for a transfer, although Maryland was one of a handful of schools — Kansas State, Minnesota and Wake Forest being the others — to offer a scholarship during the first recruiting process.
Incidentally, Coker is the second Hawkeyes back to transfer in the first 10 days of the New Year; late last week, Ferentz confirmed Mika’il McCall is leaving the program.