Posted: 1:59 pm Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Newest Bulldogs Ekeler, Park show some personality 

By Chip Towers

ATHENS – Just had what I’d have to call a very productive and entertaining interview session with two of the newest Bulldogs over at Georgia’s football complex.

Jacob Park is a quarterback and UGA’s only early enrollee in the Class of 2014. He comes to Georgia from Goose Creek, S.C., but originally hails from Watkins Glen, N.Y. He was available to talk for the first time since arriving on campus on Jan. 6. I’ve already posted one video as a separate blog and will add some more of the interview later. But I found the young man to be very engaging and pretty relaxed and open considering he was sitting at the front of a room with a bunch of reporters and cameras bearing down on him.

Likewise, new assistant coach Mike Ekeler came up to the interview studio on the second floor of the Butts-Mehre about 30 minutes later and he, too, was a fun guy to converse with. You likely saw some of the tweets from me and other media members sent out from from that session. I’ll share most of them here but one of the best was Ekeler saying of buying a house this time rather than renting like he did with his wife and four kids in California, “They’re going to have to take me out of here at gunpoint.”

So for now, let me just share some of the highlights from those two interview sessions and I’ll be coming back with some stories that will provide more context over the next several days or so.


On coming in early ….

“The reason I came in early is my position, quarterback. I wanted to get used to the offense and get a little extra time to get used to school and not just be thrown into football and taking classes. I came in early to get a little jump start.”

Thoughts when you first received the playbook …

“It was a little overwhelming. But you get in there with them, I’ve been in there studying with Hudson and (others) a couple of times and that makes it a little easier. It’s still very difficult but I’m starting to get the hang of it.”

On being the only early guy …

“At first it was strange, but I already knew Tramel Terry. He’s from my hometown, so he kind of took me in and showed me the roopes. But everybody here is cool and nobody really picks on you. It’s like a giant family. It was rough the first couple of days but you kind of get used to it and I feel like part of the team now.”

On mat drills …

“I never really had that many coaches yelling at me at the same time. We had something similar in high school we had to go through, conditioning and things like that just to be on the team. But it was a little different. We didn’t do it at 5 in the morning. So it’s a little bit of a shock.”

On possibly second-guessing decision to come early because of mat drills …

“Definitely. I didn’t know anything about mat drills. Nobody told me ’tils I got here. Bryce told me I was going regret coming here early.”

Describing himself as quarterback …

“I consider myself a pocket passer but if you watch my film in high school, I kind of had to get used to running and extending the play with my feet. I didn’t have a sgtrong offense line. They were kind of young. They all have bright futures, but I had a sophomore center and the majority of them were sophomores. So I kind of got used to dropping back and, before I could even read anything, I’d have to take off running. But it kind of helped me and probably helped me get recognized. … People tell me I play like Aaron Rogers or Collin Kapaernick. But I think I bring my own little twist to the game.”


On where he’s currently settled …

“I’m settled into the Georgia Center (hotel) over there about a block away. And that’s been good. Coming in as a new defensive staff, we’re spending a ton of time over here. So it’s been really good. My family’s still back in L.A. We just bought a house the other day.”

On moving into the same neighborhood as fellow UGA assistants Mike Bobo, Will Friend and Jeremy Pruitt …

“We have four kids ranging from our oldest boy, who’s 13, and three little girls, 12, 10 and 6, so we wanted a place where we could really settle in there are kids everywhere. Where we live now in California, it’s one of the most beautiful places probably in the world. But there’s not a kid around, not within three or four blocks. So we can’t wait to get moved and really raise our family in a little more normal setting instead of 33 million people.”

On putting down roots at UGA …

“Yeah, I bought a house. They’re going to have to take me out of here at gunpoint. This is where I want to be and the people I want to be working with. I’ve worked 12 years in this profession and I left the University of Nebraska in kind of a spring because I wanted to be a head coach. I wanted to go be a defensive coordinator and make that next move and so on and so forth. And you know what? I’ve gotten to a point right now, and I say it very humbly, where I want to be the best linebackers coach in football. That’s where my focus is. I want to be at a university like the University of Georgia and work with great people. Coach Richt, if there’s a finer human being coaching this game, I haven’t met him. Working with Jeremy Pruitt, that guy reminds me of someone I played for and coached with starting out, Bob Stoops. I mean he’s got amazing qualities and is a tremendous leader, vbery focused and knows what he wants and he has no ego. … So we’re all buying houses here. This is where I want to be.”

I’ll add more later. I have something else to do now. So check back for updates.





Love the fact that he WANTS to be here! Totally agree with Phillipdj! All good signs!


Coach Ekeler was great at Nebraska.  We hated to see him leave.  Great addition to the UGA staff!


I like the coaches attitude. I think he is going to bring a lot to the program and I think the young guys are going to enjoy working with and for him. We sometimes forget that it is only a game and these kids need to enjoy it a little bit. I kind of felt that the fun was gone out of the game with the previous defensive unit, and I think Coach Pruitt and his assistants are going to be demanding, but treat these kids right. At the very least, I don't think we will see all of the confusion on the defense that we did last year.


Im soooooo happy for the UGA program... We needed these coaches to come in an bring life back into our program and our kids... I live in Florida and i feel im the biggest dawg fan there is, everybody in Orlando, fl knows me as georgia boy!!! No matter were i live im forever an i mean forever a bulldawg!!! rouf, rouf, rouf... lets get em boys GOOOOOOOO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!


It brings tears to my eye's now that we have great defensive coaches. Just like one big happy family!


They are well on their way to being DGD's.....


Having a LB coach who:

1. Worked at two historic programs in Nebraska and USC

2. Got a personal recommendation from Tom Osborne

3. Says he wants to be "the best Linebackers coach in America".

4. Adores and respects the Georgia program

5. Is buying a house and wants his family raised in Athens

6. Says "they'll have to force me out at gunpoint".

These are GREAT signs. We don't have to worry about prima Donna. We don't have to worry about him trolling for another job. He's obviously great at what he does. He'll recruit like his life depends on it.

This could be the best Coaching staff Uga has had in decades.


CME sounds impressive and very much committed.  I think UGA's recruiting class will be much better b/c of what these coaches are all saying. For what it's worth, Grantham never bought a house while he was here and never seemed to buy into UGA either..


We have some good things in the works at Georgia. Coach may have his best group of coaches yet.


Pruitt is going to do really well at UGA. He will rub some folks the wrong way but he is a winner. Three Coach Stalling coaches on the same staff at UGA so they understand football isn't a game but their life.