From gangly freshman to an All-American, the road traveled by Jacob Park has been marked by steady growth and accomplishments.
In January, the Stratford High School senior quarterback will cap his prep career in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game is set for Jan. 4 in San Antonio and will be televised nationally by NBC.
He was presented with his No. 14 jersey for the East squad in a ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 15 in front of a packed auditorium at the school.
“It’s awesome,” Park said. “I didn’t know how good it was going to feel until it actually happened. To have everybody show up is amazing. It’s an inspiration to keep on playing.”
Park also will join the ranks of talented alumni comprised of NFL stars and Heisman Trophy winners, including Andrew Luck, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
“That kind of makes me happy,” Park said, referring to the list of NFL quarterbacks to participate in the game. “Maybe I will be playing in the league one day but I’m taking one step at a time and college is next.”
The University of Georgia commitment has passed for over 2,000 yards to lead the Knights to an 8-0 record this season. He was also chosen to the South Carolina Shrine Bowl team and is one of the finalists for the state’s Mr. Football.
“He’s proven himself,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said.
The U.S. Army game gives Park the chance to shine nationally again after placing fifth in ESPN’s Elite 11 over the summer. He knows there’s some pressure playing in the prestigious game but Park seems to embrace it.
“There’s always pressure,” he said. “I try not to think about that. I have high expectations for myself. I don’t know that anybody else’s could be higher. It just keeps me working hard and doing what the coaches tell me.”
Stackley expects Park to be driven by thoughts of the local community and Stratford.
“I think he will be very conscientious of what he can do in the game to bring respect to the Goose Creek community and Stratford High School.”
“It’s going to give me a little more motivation to work harder to actually produce in the game,” Park said.