Stony Brook star 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 shortly before the Seawolves' 35-6 loss Saturday at Villanova. The loss of the key player from the team's running game came on the heels of a season-ending knee injury to starting cornerback Reuben Johnson, a standout transfer from Cincinnati.
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 rushing 34 times -- one short of his career high in a game for Iowa -- for 115 yards at Buffalo. But Priore knew after that game that Coker's season was over.
"The doctors said he can't play anymore," Priore said. "They said it could risk serious injury. But they're very confident rest will heal it."
Because the decision was made before Stony Brook's second conference game, Coker likely will be granted a medical hardship allowing him to return next season. Asked if he expects Coker to return rather than turn pro, Priore said, "Absolutely, 100 percent."
Coker spent two seasons at Iowa, where he was second in rushing in the Big Ten as a sophomore, before transferring to Stony Brook last season. He rushed for 1,018 yards and nine touchdowns for the Seawolves in 2012.
Without Coker, Stony Brook used a rotation of Jameel Poteat, Jamie Williams, Tyler Fredericks and James Kenner, who totaled 60 yards on 19 carries. "I've got confidence in them," Priore said. "We're certainly going to continue to do what we do."
Priore also hopes cornerback Johnson will return. He played at Cincinnati from 2009-11 and sat out last season with an injury before transferring. Stony Brook will appeal to the NCAA to allow Johnson a sixth year of competition.