Jacob Park is a lone wolf when it comes to the Georgia Bulldogs recruiting class, and it’s not because he is the only quarterback signee.
Park is the only recruit that enrolled early and will have a head start over the competition when fall camp starts.
This does not mean he will challenge Hutson Mason for the starting quarterback spot or even the backup spot. But having Park enrolled early could mean that he is looking to be the starter for the 2015 season, which at this point is an open competition.
So who is Park, and what does he bring to the table?
Park is from Goose Creek, S.C. and played for Stratford High School. During his senior year, he led the Knights to an AAAA Division 2 Finals appearance with a 12-3 record. He put up big numbers this past season, throwing for over 3,500 yards and 32 touchdowns. And because of his performance, Park won the 2013 South Carolina Mr. Football Award.
The Bulldogs did not wait to snap up Park—he committed to the Bulldogs in June of 2013. Park is a 4-star quarterback according to 247Sports and is also listed as the fifth-best quarterback prospect in the country.
Before he enrolled in Athens, he had two more games to play, which were all-star games. In the Shrine Bowl, Park completed 3 of 11 passes for 63 yards and took three sacks. In the Army Bowl, Park completed 1 of 8 passes for six yards and one interception.
Park’s high school coach Ray Stackley told AJC.com's Michael Carvell that despite the struggles in the all-star games, Park does have an upside. He has a big arm and everyone at the Army Bowl thought he had the best arm out there.
Park took a lot of scrutiny for his struggles, but Brice Ramsey had the same struggles at last year’s Under Armor All-America game where he threw three interceptions. Because quarterbacks don’t have a lot of time to work with the other skill players and the offensive line, timing is always off, which leads to quarterbacks not playing as well as they should.
The question now is where will Park stand in terms of the depth chart.
Mason is the starter, but the No. 2 spot will be an interesting competition. Faton Bauta was the backup for Mason last year, but Ramsey is coming off a redshirt year.
It would be easy to say Bauta will hold on to the No. 2 spot, but Park and Ramsey fit the offense better than Bauta. It will depend on how each quarterback performs during spring practice, but Park may have to take a redshirt this season.
That is not a bad thing—it will give him time to learn the offense without feeling the pressure to succeed right away. He can take notes from Mason (who will be a senior) and put what he learned from Mason into his game.
Then when 2015 arrives, he will be in prime position to compete for the starting spot.
Park has a strong arm, quick feet and makes good decisions. He plays like Aaron Murray, which worked out well for the Bulldogs. That does not mean Park is going to be the next Murray, but if all goes well and he does everything right like he has been so far, he will be the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs in 2015.