Thursday, June 20, 2013
As far back as middle school, Stratford quarterback Jacob Park projected as a next-level player.
With his senior season closing in, Park has taken the first step to playing in college by successfully navigating the recruiting process. Last week, Park (6-4, 210) committed to the Georgia Bulldogs over Alabama and many others. He said UGA coach Mark Richt and assistant Mike Bobo treated him like a son and he felt more at home in Athens than he did anywhere else.
“It’s like a huge weight off my chest,” Park said. “I know I’ve committed to a good place.”
He is set to become the second local player to sign with the Bulldogs. Goose Creek High School receiver-running back Tramel Terry will be a freshman at Georgia this season.
“I’m good friends with him and we joked about us going to the same school,” said Park, who will enroll at UGA in December. “I didn’t know if that would really happen but I’m glad it did.”
This fall, Park will start his fourth season for the Stratford Knights. His high school career has been marked by steady progress.
Last fall, he combined for over 2,700 yards passing and rushing, and threw 26 touchdown passes compared to just five interceptions.
“We knew were going to take some lumps when he was a freshman,” Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel said. “We knew he was going to make some freshman mistakes. But he’s gotten better and better every time he’s stepped on the field, and he’s won over his teammates and the coaching staff.”
McDaniel said Park’s size, arm strength and competitiveness are ultimately what makes him a player good enough to compete in the Southeastern Conference and beyond. He’s more mobile than a lot of people think too.
“He can make any throw you ask him to make,” McDaniel said, “but his best strength overall is his desire to compete and win. He wants to win at whatever he does.”
Park is ranked as a top 10 pro-style quarterback in the nation by recruiting gurus and is a top prospect in the state. McDaniel feels Park has only shown a little bit of what he’s going to become.
“He’s got a lot of work to do and he knows it,” McDaniel said. “That’s one of the best attributes in Jacob. He’s got enough of an attitude that he can be a leader at the position but he’s humble enough to know that he can get better. He’s very coachable.”
If he makes the same amount of strides at Georgia as he’s made at Stratford, he should have the chance to play at the highest level, the National Football League, McDaniel added.
A year ago, Park helped lead the Knights to a 10-3 record and an appearance in the second round of the playoffs. It was the best season on Crowfield Avenue since the Knights went 12-2 in 2006.
And with his college choice out of the way, Park is ready to lead without distractions this fall.
“He wanted to move all of the focus off of him and he wants to the make the team the best it can be,” McDaniel said.
The Knights figure to be a top 10 team when the season begins and certainly expect to compete for the crown.
“We’ve got to work just as hard as anybody else,” Park said. “I’m hoping to bring home a championship. We haven’t had one since 1999. That’s definitely our goal.”