Florida State has its next starting quarterback, his name is Jameis Winston.
This seems like a fairly unsurprising piece of news but that really does a disservice to just how much Jacob Coker challenged for the starting job. Coker was hampered by injuries during last Spring's camp and never got a shot to really make his own impression. When Jimbo Fisher let him state his case during preseason camp he didn't falter.
"He looked like a totally new guy," said Lamarcus Joyner. "He had the best camp I've seen [from him] since he got on campus."
And Fisher took his time to decide, but on Friday afternoon he was ready to announce EJ Manuel's successor.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to go through. I say this and this is not coach talk, we truly have two very good quarterbacks. And guys, I’d feel very comfortable with either one of them in the game," said Fisher. "But, we named the starter, it’ll be Jameis. I’m very comfortable with that but I’m also very comfortable with Jake’s performance too.”
There are a couple interesting points to look at from this QB news. Aside from the fact that the Jameis Winston Era has officially begun at Florida State, there are two key takeaways from this race.
First of all, Jacob Coker must be one heck of a quarterback because with all of the factors that were in Winston's favor, it would have been very easy to just name him the starter and avoid a whole load of potential backlash issues that would have come with picking Coker.
FSU's fanbase really couldn't have been much more overtly Pro-Jameis over the course of the past six months. Since baseball season the Seminole faithful have been enamored with Winston's potential, it was clear who they wanted. But Fisher really didn't seem to mind taking some of that headache on. It may have just been posturing, but it's also quite possible Coker really did force Fisher to take a look and almost unseated Winston for the job.
By all accounts- coming from both players and coaches- Coker was excellent.
If Coker is as gifted as advertised, he may already be looking at his options to play elsewhere. Depending on his course-load the next two semesters, he could attempt to graduate early and avoid the year-long penalty that typically comes with transferring between colleges. Otherwise his options to see the field may be limited- provided Winston doesn't falter.
On Friday though, as Fisher announced his decision, Coker looked as committed to Florida State as ever. On the far field, off in the distance behind where Fisher spoke, Coker was the last man off the field as he stayed late to throw a few more balls while the final moments of daylight faded.
The other takeaway from this is purely a recruiting angle. Everybody around the country had pegged Jameis Winston the starter by halftime of the Florida State Spring Game. Everyone except Jimbo Fisher who- at least on the basis of outward appearances- actually allowed competition to dictate the winner of his QB competition.
Now, we can't know for certain how things really worked when the gates of the Dunlap Athletic Facility closed and they kicked reporters out, but the optics were solid. There was Fisher, day after day, giving the same refrain about competition and letting players earn their jobs.
That plays very well on the recruiting trail.
Now Fisher can sit in the living room of any prospect in the country and no matter who would be in front of that young man on the depth chart when he arrives on campus in Tallahassee, there will be a bit more weight to the promise that every job is open and the best players will always play at Florida State.
Whether any of that is actually the case, who knows?
But it looks good.
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