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

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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.

LOOK: Jim Harbaugh hooks Pope Francis up with Michigan helmet, pair of Jordans

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There’s a series of words I’d never imagined I’d string together in a headline.

As you may have heard, Jim Harbaugh has taken his Michigan football team to Italy for an offseason European vacation.  As part of the trip, the team is in the Vatican City today and took in the Pope’s Wednesday address to the masses in St. Peter’s Square — the players and athletic director Warde Manuel sat amongst the crowd while the head coach and his wife were seated on the same stage as Pope Francis.

Following the address, and after a wait of nearly a half-hour, Harbaugh was able to meet with and speak to His Holiness.  The coach didn’t come empty-handed, either, as Pope Francis was gifted with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans.  Michigan-themed, of course.

“This is as good as it gets,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com after his meeting with the pope. “This has been the experience of my lifetime.”

Tulane turns to Jonathan Banks as starter at QB

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Last season, there was just one FBS team — Army and its triple-option (967) — that passed for fewer yards than Tulane’s 1,360.  Tulane’s team passing efficiency rating of 93.12 was 128th of the 128 teams at this level of football.  Their completion percentage of 42.2 was, again, 128th in the FBS.  Their 5.3 yards per attempt was… 127th.

This season, the Green Wave’s passing hopes in a run-heavy offense will likely land on the shoulders of a junior college transfer.

Throughout the spring, Jonathan Banks had taken the majority of reps with the first-team offense.  Tuesday, Willie Fritz confirmed that Banks will be his starter under center heading into summer camp and, presumably, for the program’s season opener against Grambling at home Sept. 2.

At least for now, Banks has staked his claim to the job after a competition that included Glen Cuiellette and Jonathan Brantley, the starter and backup, respectively, last season.

“He did a good job this spring picking things up,” the head coach said according to nola.com. “We evaluated practices 1 through 15 and I thought, for a guy coming into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with both a passing and a running threat, which in our offense you need to have.

“We’re excited about his development.”

Drew O’Bryan leaves Western Kentucky, drops down to FCS level

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Another day, another FBS player has transitioned away from his first college football home.

On his personal Twitter account recently, Drew O’Bryan acknowledged his decision to transfer from Western Kentucky. Additionally, he announced his next destination for good measure — Eastern Kentucky.

The linebacker said he made the decision “[a]fter talking with my family and many prayers.”

As EKU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, O’Bryan will be eligible to play immediately for the Colonels in 2017.

O’Bryan was a two-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.