He committed to Georgia in June 2013. The No. 93 prospect nationally and fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback with offers from Alabama, Florida State and Notre Dame, Park appeared a suitable heir to Aaron Murray, whose UGA career wrapped as Park led Goose Creek (S.C.) Stratford to the Class AAAA Division II state championship game and took the title of Mr. Football in his home state to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
After his first spring at Georgia, Park redshirted behind Hutson Mason, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. The departure to Colorado State of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo preceded a second spring for the quarterback without movement on the depth chart.
Park said he questioned training methods, coaching decisions and the impact of work away from the field on his progress.
“I just don’t think my personality and their personality went together,” Park said of his time at Georgia. “I never was cocky or arrogant or thought I had all the answers, but I definitely wasn’t as open-minded as I thought I was.”
More than that, he got frustrated easily and failed to handle the scrutiny of living under a spotlight.
“People think your life’s perfect because you play quarterback at a major university, but they have no idea how many eyes are on you at all times,” he said. “That was a weird time in my life. My trust in the whole business of football was really killing my love for the game.”
… The experiences at Georgia and elsewhere, Park said, were “the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Today, he embraces the early morning workouts he used to despise.
“As a person, I’ve taken tremendous strides,” Park said. “As a football player, I’m much more dialed in and controlled. The stuff that coach Patterson preached to me when I was [at NEO] and that coach Campbell continues to preach to me here, I don’t know if it’s the first time I’ve heard it or if I’m just a better listener, but it all makes sense now.
“There’s no pointless conversations with anybody. My life makes sense for me.”
I know it’s easy to point at Park and chalk him up as another whiff at the position by Richt — why didn’t the coaches see his attitude coming during recruitment? — that hurt the program in 2015. But I wonder, even more than I do about Brice Ramsey’s case, what might have been with Park had Bobo not taken the Colorado State job. Some coaches do a better job of getting kids’ heads out of their asses than others, and Park’s career at Iowa State indicates he was open to that kind of coaching.
Water under the bridge, I know…