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AMES — Intangibles of a quarterback are almost as important as the on-field performance.
Iowa State’s Jacob Park has all the physical tools, and really grew into his role as the starter last fall. He had a team-high 55.8 percent completion rate with 1,791 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
In his first offseason program with the Cyclones, Park has begun expanding on his role as the “CEO” of the offense.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve seen with Jacob is understanding what it takes to be a quarterback,” said Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell. “Not just play the position of quarterback, but to really be a quarterback. I think he’s grown.”
Park split time at quarterback with Joel Lanning through the first seven games, but became the starter for the final five when Lanning transitioned to a specialized role.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior redshirted at Georgia in 2014 and was at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M from 2015-16, but didn’t play football. When Park got to Ames last spring, the staff knew they had talent on their hands, but since he was more than two years removed from his last game, there still was an element of mystery.
“Literally he went into the football game and played last season on sheer talent alone,” Campbell said. “Now did he work hard to understand the offense and some of those things? Yes. But the discipline that it takes and the habits that it takes and the ability to be the CEO of the offense, he had none of that.
“It tells you what kind of talent Jacob has, to be honest with you, and it also tells you it’s a situation you’re never in again in terms of your own football program because that’s really hard to have success that way.”
Iowa State has slowly started to add size in its pass-catching position through the years. In 2017, the Cyclones will have more weapons with length at their disposal than ever before.
Wide receivers Allen Lazard, Hakeem Butler and JUCO transfer Matt Eaton are 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-4, respectively. Adding redshirt freshmen tight ends Chase Allen (6-foot-6) and Dylan Soehner (6-foot-7) opens things up even more.
“The first word in Big 12 is ‘big.’ So I like when I see 6-5, 6-5, 6-6 at the wideouts,” said running backs and associate head coach Lou Ayeni. “I like Chase Allen and Dylan Soehner out there. We’ve got big people out there. Matchup problems.”
Sophomore Deshaunte Jones (5-foot-10) and senior Trever Ryen (5-foot-11) complement that size with speed inside, but what the bigger guys do is make the offense more versatile. Allen, 230 pounds, has the ability to split out wide or play attached while Soehner, 283 pounds, has some deceptive speed.
“I’m like 6-3 and I feel small compared to some of the kids we’ve got in the room this year,” said tight end Sam Harms. “Out on the field, it’s a lot easier for them to catch balls. Bigger targets.”
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