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Coker gets a jumpstart

By Eddy Landreth
Staff Writer

Quarterback prospect and future Tar Heel Kanler Coker graduated in December from Flowery Branch High School in Georgia.

Eddy Landreth

He could not enroll at UNC for the spring semester because he did not choose the Tar Heels until first-year coach Larry Fedora came calling in January. By then it was past time to enroll.

So Coker is working for his father and working on his game and his body with his time.

Having the freedom of being a graduate with no firm demands did provide him with a rare opportunity for an incoming freshman. He spent the initial two weeks of spring practice in Chapel Hill watching the Tar Heels work out for Fedora and his staff for the first time.

The practice tempo and the speed at which Fedora wants his offense and defense to operate could not help but grab his attention, said Coker, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds.

“The pace is crazy,” Coker said. “It’s just super fast. The offense, with the schemes, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

“There were a lot of great athletes out there, and that makes any quarterback happy.”

Coker appears to have the talent to make those athletes happy. His senior season, he completed 173 of 290 passes for 2,809 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also rushed 119 times for 837 yards and 15 touchdowns. So he accounted for more than 3,800 yards of total offense.

He achieved in the classroom, earning the teams’ academic award in football and basketball.

Being on campus at Carolina for those weeks got his adrenaline pumping even harder, providing incentive to get as prepared as he can before he reports for the first session of summer school.

“They sent me a workout, so I’m doing that,” Coker said. “I’m also trying to learn all the signals and the lingo so I will be ready. I learned a lot while I was there for two weeks.

“It is really exciting. It’s less than a month away,” he continued. “I can’t wait to get up there. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be a lot of fun too.”

Coker had superb timing. He didn’t just watch the first two weeks of spring practice – he got to study the team and coaches as they practiced on the field together for the first time.

“I went out the first day and they were blasting music,” Coker said. “The guys were working real hard, but they were also having fun. I thought that was really cool.

“They had a lot of spirit, and they did not let up until they finished. That is what Coach Fedora preaches.”

Those two weeks enabled Coker to learn more about Fedora. He came away even more impressed.

“He runs a tight ship,” Coker said. “He wants everybody all in. He wants everybody to be perfect every play. He has a lot of character. He knows when he needs to put his foot down.

“Also he’s always trying to get everybody to play as hard as possible and as fast as possible.”

In the recruiting process, a lot was made of Coker’s ability to maneuver and run. He can certainly do that, but his statistics for throwing the ball are impressive as well.

He attributes his quick feet to playing basketball his whole life. He has never been hesitant about cutting it loose when he makes throws either.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Coker said, “but I’ve always been able to make any throw I wanted. I am confident in my arm.”

Coker said he thinks about becoming a Tar Heel all the time, particularly now that each day brings him one step closer.

“I just have to work extra hard,” Coker said. “I’ve got to do right on and off the field. I represent North Carolina now. So I have to do right in the classroom too.

“It’s something to be proud of. It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life.”

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