Q&A: The World According to UGA’s Jacob Park

The most impressive part of Jacob Park is his arm talent. Georgia receivers say the redshirt freshman 'has a cannon.' (UGA photo by John Kelley)

The most impressive part of Jacob Park is his arm talent. Georgia receivers say the redshirt freshman ‘has a cannon.’ (UGA photo by John Kelley)

ATHENS — Jacob Park is an interesting Dog. There haven’t been many other Georgia quarterbacks I’ve covered the last decade or so who would refer to a reporter as “bro” when answering his question. There’s definitely a sort of hip-hop persona to this tall, athletic redshirt freshman from Goose Creek, S.C., complete with the resident brashness and confidence one might expect from a star entertainer.

Park has a long way to go before becoming a star for the Bulldogs. At the moment he’s in the throes of a quarterback competition in which he started No. 3 in a three-man race. But Park made it clear in his first extensive interview with the media this week that he doesn’t view himself as a long shot to win the job over Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta.

“It’s just fun to be part of a competition,” said Park, who spent last season running the scout team during a redshirt year. “If me and you are in a foot race and I win, that’s fun, ‘cause I won.”

And, say, he lost? “Hey, next question.”

There’s a bit a buzz about Park during Georgia’s spring practice session. It really started last fall when Park started making some plays against the Bulldogs’ No. 1 offense out of the mold of his present-day football idol, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He’d either pull down the ball and take off up the field or either fake doing so and then hurl a laser to a receiver deep down the field.

Park has had to reign in such tactics as he adjusts to running Georgia’s play-action-based, pro-style offense. But he remains very impressive from the standpoint of “arm talent.”

“He definitely has a cannon,” senior tight end Jay Rome said. “You really can’t describe it any other way.”

Odds are that Ramsey, the most experienced of the Bulldogs’ signalcallers, will continue to be Georgia’s top guy. But Park is definitely going to make it interesting going forward.

Here’s some more from Park’s exchange with UGA beat reporters earlier this week.

Park

Park

On how spring practice is going so far …

“Great, having a lot of fun out there with (Brian) Schottenheimer. It’s a little less stressful on the field. We’re just enjoying it, getting better every day. There’s not as many rules. There’s not as many checks, picking up blitzes and things like that. It’s more playing ball than the actual concepts.”

On differences between Mike Bobo and Schottenheimer …

“It’s hard to tell. Coach Bobo had been here so long, his offense had been in, everybody knew it. Schottenheimer just got here, so he’s kind of teaching everybody the same offense from the ground up. So it’s keeping it a little simpler at the beginning. So as far as their coaching styles, I can’t really tell right now at practice. I like Bobo, I like how he gets after it. And I like how Coach Schottenheimer coaches. I like how he stays calm.”

On differences in offense under Schottenheimer …

“There are similarities, but terminologies and things like that have changed.”

On what rotation looks like …

“We change off every other day. One day Brice will be with the ones, Faton will be with the twos, I’ll be with the threes, and then we’ll just rotate. That’s how we’ve been doing it. That’s how Coach Schottenheimer and Coach Richt want to do it. So I guess that’s how we’ll do it.”

On what he’s bringing to the QB position …

“I’m a competitor. I want to play and I want to win. That’s what I’m bringing.”

On how his mindset is different this year …

“Knowing I’ve got a shot. I was redshirted last year so it was just go out there and have fun and throw the ball on scout team. Now I’ve actually got to sit in the pocket, make reads, pick up blitzes, not with the ball all the time, make good decisions, throw completions. Now I’m playing actual fundamental football and not backyard football.”

On what he gained from being redshisrted …

“There were pros and cons to it. I created a lot of bad habits. I’d just chuck and duck. I didn’t have good protection last year on scout team, so I didn’t trust my protections and tended to scramble a lot. But at the same time I got to see how (defensive coordinator Jeremy) Pruitt and his defense works and I could make a few reads that I could see happening. But it was hit and miss in certain situations.”

On what he’s working on …

“That’s definitely been my biggest emphasis, staying in the pocket. That’s what I’ve been working on the most.

On potential of Georgia’s offense ….

“We’ve got a lot of returners and we’ ve got a lot of good players. But at the end of the day you’ve got to play together and put it all together on the field. We ain’t there yet. We’re going to get there. I’m just excited for tomorrow.”

On difficulty of learning Schottenheimer’s offense …

“It’s not as extreme as you make it. I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m studying football just like I’m studying for school. It’s just another thing to study. You do what you’ve got to do, pick up the system.

On what offensive players have stood out so far …

“Everybody likes to watch Isaiah McKenzie and Malcolm Mitchell run around and catch the ball. And I think Charlie Hegedus is coming on strong. His hands are ridiculous and his speed is close to Isaiah. I saw those two yesterday take off on go routes on opposite sides of the field and Charlie had him by two steps for 40 yards. I’m pretty excited to see who’s going to break out in the next couple of practices.”


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