For Briar Woods offensive lineman Jared Coker, his college decision was an afterthought in late May of his junior year. He created strong bonds with the Bowling Green coaching staff that compelled him to commit nearly a year before National Signing Day for the class of 2014.
But during the week of the Virginia 5A state championship, everything changed when Bowling Green Coach Dave Clawson took the same position at Wake Forest. With his mind strictly on playing football for the Falcons the entire season, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound lineman elected to reopen his recruitment to make sure he was comfortable with his commitment to a school that would have a new head coach.
“It was like I had to do it all over again in a short amount of time,” Coker said. “My recruitment kind of restarted again and I had to figure out what I was going to do.”
In Coker’s second round of navigating schools, he added two offers: Arkansas State and Richmond. Spiders outside linebackers coach Manny Rojas was informed that Coker was back on the market by Falcons Coach Charlie Pierce when Rojas was in Ashburn for a Briar Woods practice. The courting began from there.
On Saturday, Coker took an unofficial visit to school’s Commonwealth’s capital city campus, and Sunday he gave his oral commitment.
A standout in the classroom with a 3.6 cumulative GPA, Coker plans to major in computer sciences at Richmond. After college, his first goal is to play on Sundays, but he would also like to pursue a career as a government contractor.
“I loved it. It was one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen,” Coker said. “I felt like the coaches were going to take care of you and have a personal relationship with you.”
The first-team 5A North lineman decided between Kent State, Arkansas State and Richmond. Ultimately, the fact that it was close to home and the level of comfort he had gained with the coaching staff gave the Spiders the edge.
In Coker, the Spiders get a tough and physical lineman who can play either tackle or guard at the next level.
“I have the ability to pull up in a hole — a guard pulls and moves someone out the way,” Coker said “I can run and stay in front of people really well, too. I’m a mean dude who’s going to hit anyone in my way.”
Coker will be one of three Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision signees for the Falcons on February 5 alongside quarterback Trace McSorley (Vanderbilt) and wide receiver Melvin Holland Jr., who has yet to choose between his growing list of suitors.