Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and just under 200 pounds, Georgia quarterback commit Jacob Park has the frame to put on a few extra pounds of muscle and the arm strength to compete at the Division I level right now.
What he also has is a personality that is at the same time both calm and extremely confident. During a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Park gave a candid description of Bulldogs coach Mark Richt’s recruiting habits compared to those of Nick Saban. He touches upon the two in-state powerhouses of South Carolina and Clemson (although he is the No. 1-ranked recruit in the state by 247Sports, neither school offered him) and how he nearly wound up at Auburn and then Virginia Tech.
First of all, Park made it abundantly clear that he understands exactly where he is at, and exactly how far he needs to go before he has “made it.”
“All of my friends know I haven’t made it yet. I’m not at Georgia yet. I’m still in high school. Anybody can do what I’m doing in high school. I guess I will know when I get to the next level if I’m as good as everybody says.”
And what about being the newly-crowned No. 1 player out of South Carolina? “I mean, I kind of take that with a grain of salt,” Park said. “There’s lot of good players in South Carolina. I feel like I’ve had a little more media coverage and I guess I’ve had a little heads up on everybody else. That doesn’t make me play any harder. That’s just somebody’s opinion. It’s cool to be No. 1, but at the same time, what does it really mean?”
He reports that he actually chose Georgia over the slew of schools recruiting him because they did not put the intense pressure on that other schools have become known for (Ole Miss, we’re looking your way on this one).
“It was different. Coach Richt and Coach Bobo didn’t hassle me. They didn’t call me every day. They sent me letters. They didn’t send me a million letters like everybody else. But when they did, it was a letter that meant something. I went on a visit there, and it came down to Georgia and Alabama. Alabama was being wishy-washy. Coach Bobo told me ‘I sent two offers out this year, you and Deshaun Watson. I’m not going to offer anybody else until you make a decision.’ I took that to mean that he liked me a lot. Everything fell together after that. All my friends are Georgia fans. My brother is the biggest Georgia fan that you will ever know.”
Of course, the AJC had to ask about Alabama and what being “wishy-washy” really meant.
“I don’t know. They told me they wanted to take two quarterbacks. I don’t know if that is true. I don’t know if they’re taking two quarterbacks. I know (David) Cornwell is going there. I don’t know. I just figured if they were taking two, if they were telling me the truth or not, Georgia said they were taking one quarterback. When you come to down to two schools like that, and they are that close, why go with someone who is taking two when Georgia just wants one?”
For those unfamiliar with the recruiting process, most schools take one quarterback each year. Bringing in more generally results in transfers, which is no fun for anyone. Because Cornwell committed to the Tide roughly 30 minutes after Park signed on with the Dawgs, some believed Park never actually had an Alabama offer in the first place.
“Yes, I had an Alabama offer. For about two weeks, I talked to Coach Saban almost every day. He was talking to me about “How do I feel about them? Did I care if they took two quarterbacks?’ And all that stuff. It seemed like right after I committed, then Cornwell committed. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t look into it much. I’m going to Georgia, and I’m not really worried about Alabama anymore.”
It was “cool” being able to chat with a man of Saban’s stature that often, but Park did not put too much stock into it. Not with the way their conversations were going.
“It was cool. It was nice to meet him and everything. But I don’t see him any higher than Coach Richt. He’s just another person. After I looked it into more, he doesn’t have a real good history of putting quarterbacks in the league. I think I made the right decision with Georgia.”
Park went on to explain what schools were top for him early in the process.
“Virginia Tech was my No. 1 for a while because I had a good relationship with (assistant Scot Loeffler) when he was at Auburn. I was going to commit to Auburn last year. But then all that stuff happened, and he ended up getting fired. He went to Virginia Tech, and I’ve got family there. But once I picked up an offer from Alabama and Georgia, it just didn’t seem real to pick Virginia Tech over those two schools.”
Ouch, Va. Tech, but at least the Hokies were not alone. Park was not too high on his two home state schools, South Carolina and Clemson, either.
“South Carolina was recruiting me hard until last year when I guess they thought they had their quarterback. Neither one of them threw an offer at me, but it didn’t really bother me. I mean, I feel like Georgia is a way better school than South Carolina or Clemson would be any day, so I’m not really worried about that.”
With record-setting passer Aaron Murray set to graduate following the 2013 season, the position will be wide open when Park arrives on campus in 2014.