HS coach: Jacob Coker gets release from FSU, visit from Saban

9 Comments

The Jacob Coker-to-Alabama rumors continue to gain steam, with all signs pointing to a final destination of Tuscaloosa at some point after May of this year.

Speaking to al.com, Coker’s high school coach, Steve Mask, confirmed that the quarterback received an in-home visit Tuesday afternoon from UA head coach Nick Saban.  Mask further confirmed that Coker has been granted a release from his Florida State scholarship, freeing him up to talk and ultimately transfer to another football program.

FSU has yet to offer any updates on Coker’s status, with Mask serving as the first “confirmation” that the redshirt sophomore will be, after months of speculation, in a different uniform for the 2014 season.

The report from al.com comes a couple of days after former Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood let the Coker cat out of the bag during a radio interview, essentially stating that the player was all but signed, sealed and delivered to his former school.

It also comes a week after Luke Del Rio announced his transfer from Alabama.  The quarterback, who was expected to vie for the job of replacing AJ McCarron under center, ultimately landed at Oregon State.

Coker played his high school football at St. Paul’s in Mobile, Ala., the same high school that produced McCarron.  If Coker does end up back in his home state, he’ll likely be a part of a quarterback competition that includes McCarron’s primary 2013 backup Blake Sims and four-star 2014 recruit David Cornwell.  Alec Morris could also be in the mix as well, at least early on.

As Coker will not graduate from FSU until late May, he would not be free to join the Tide until later that summer.  Because he will be a graduate transfer, however, he would be eligible to play immediately and have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2014.

Following Clint Trickett‘s transfer from the Seminoles last spring, Coker and some guy named Jameis Winston “battled” for FSU’s starting job, with the latter winning the job and ultimately the Heisman in leading the ‘Noles to a BCS title.  Coker served as Winston’s backup before suffering what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury in mid-November.

UPDATED 3:03 p.m. ET: A Florida State official has confirmed that Jacob Coker has been released from his FSU scholarship.

Illinois adds UCF grad transfer QB Pete DiNovo

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room.  Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.

Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini.  The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.

As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season.  Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”

DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason.  How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.

UTEP stays in-house to replace fired OC Brent Pease

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.

The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired.  A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.

Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.  He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.

Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.

The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff.  Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.

Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton discharged from hospital after leaving Wazzu game on a stretcher

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.

Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.

Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”

Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”

Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.

Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell, WR Jauan Jennings to miss the rest of the season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pair of wrist injuries will cost two Tennessee players the rest of their respective seasons.

Wide receiver Juaun Jennings and linebacker Cortez McDowell will miss the rest of the season, head coach Butch Jones announced Monday.

Jennings left Tennessee’s Labor Day victory over Georgia Tech in the second quarter after absorbing as he collected a catch over the middle, his third of the game. Jennings did not return to the game and will not for the rest of the season, forcing the 2-1 Volunteers to move forward without their top returning pass-catcher.

Additionally, McDowell was lost during the Vols loss to Florida on Saturday.

The McDowell injury is particularly brutal for Tennessee because it leaves Big Orange without all three of its protected starters at linebacker. Middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland, Jr., has already undergone season-ending surgery, and strongside linebacker Austin Smith injured his knee during the final week of fall camp.

On top of that, safety Todd Kelly, Jr., did not make the trip to Gainesville and could be lost for the season. Kick returner Evan Berry did not play against Florida either.

Oh, and Tennessee lost to Florida on a Hail Mary after having a first-and-goal inside the final minute.

Other than that, though, everything’s going great in Knoxville.