Former Alabama quarterback Jake Coker revealed in March that he played his senior season on a broken toe. But it wasn’t until now that the story behind it was known.
AL.com’s Matt Zenitz reports that Coker injured the toe about two weeks before the season while — wait for it — wrestling with a teammate.
The text from [Jeff] Allen, Alabama’s head football athletic trainer, included a picture of an X-ray that showed a broken right big toe. Allen asked: “What do you see here?”
[Norman] Waldrop, one of the Tide’s team doctors, responded: Somebody’s got a badly broken toe. Whose toe is that?
Allen immediately called and shared, “It’s Jake Coker’s.”
“I was like, ‘OK… That’s not good,'” Waldrop said.
Coker reportedly was playfully wrestling friend and teammate wide receiver ArDarius Stewart in the team’s locker room Aug. 13. Coker inadvertently kicked a trash can as Stewart grabbed his leg, trying to escape a pin.
“I got him on the ground,” Coker told AL.com. “But when we got up, I was like, ‘Oh my God. I can barely walk.’ I won the battle. I lost the war, though.”
Coker was in the middle of a competition with Cooper Bateman for the starting quarterback job. Thus, he insisted on practicing though the pain, amplified by the toe being the big one on his right foot — the one he plants on.
He opted for surgery, had two screws inserted in his toe, and almost exactly five months to the day later hoisted the National Championship trophy into the air after defeating Clemson 45-40.
“Jake will be a legend for the rest of his life because he was the starting quarterback on a national championship team at Alabama,” Waldrop told AL.com. “You can never take that away from him. But he was close to not having that opportunity.”
On the broken toe, Coker threw for 3,110 yards and 21 touchdowns, leading the Crimson Tide to a 14-1 record and national title. Despite that, the Arizona Cardinals cut Coker from their roster Monday.