Stony Brook's Marcus Coker drives the ball against Villanova in...

Stony Brook's Marcus Coker drives the ball against Villanova in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs at LaValle Stadium. (Nov. 24, 2012) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Star Stony Brook running back Marcus Coker, the high-profile transfer from Iowa who was expected to carry the Seawolves to a third straight FCS playoff berth, has been ruled out for the rest of this season with an abdominal injury.

Coach Chuck Priore announced the move before a Saturday afternoon game at Villanova, the preseason favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association. The loss of the key player in his running game comes on the heels of a season-ending knee injury to starting cornerback Reuben Johnson, a standout transfer from Cincinnati, earlier this week.

“Obviously, we’re going to miss Marcus and Reuben,” Priore said in a statement. “Both of them had gotten off to great starts in our first season of CAA competition, but I look forward to working with them next season.”

Coker spent two seasons at Iowa before transferring to Stony Brook last season, when he rushed for 1,018 yards and nine touchdowns while sharing backfield duties with Miguel Maysonet. By making the decision before Stony Brook’s second conference game, Coker likely will be granted a medical hardship allowing him to return next season.

Johnson’s situation is more uncertain because he played for Cincinnati from 2009-11 and missed all of 2012 for medical reasons before suffering the left knee injury that will sideline him this season. Stony Brook will appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of competition for Johnson, who was CAA defensive player of the week after the opener at Rhode Island.

Coker played through the effects of his abdominal injury in the first two games, carrying 23 times for 78 yards and a touchdown at Rhode Island and then rushing 34 times – one short of his career-high carries in a game at Iowa – for 115 yards at Buffalo.

While at Iowa, Coker finished his sophomore season as the second-leading rusher in the Big Ten with 1,384 yards and 15 TDs, and he was co-MVP of Iowa’s Insight Bowl win over Missouri as a freshman, rushing for 219 yards and two touchdowns.

Losing Coker before playing Villanova is a crushing blow for the Seawolves. He battered the Wildcats’ defense for 107 yards on 29 carries in a first-round FCS playoff win last November at Stony Brook.

Coker’s place in the lineup will be taken by running backs Jamie Williams, Jameel Poteat and freshman Tyler Fredericks.

“Every college football team deals with injuries,” Priore said. “We will overcome them and move forward. Injuries won’t define this team.”

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