QB Alex Park ’14 readies for his moment in the spotlight
By Brett Drucker And Noah Reichblum, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Often referred to as the field general, the quarterback is one of the most critical positions on a football team. Tasked with organizing the offense and making split-second decisions in the face of defensive schemes designed to confuse and slow him down, a successful quarterback is an integral cog in a successful offensive machine.
For the 2011 Dartmouth football team, the offense focused on a potent rushing attack that featured Dartmouth’s all-time leading rusher Nick Schwieger ’12 and gained over 60 percent of its total yards on the ground. With the graduation of the star running back, the team looked to rebuild itself with a more balanced and diverse attack and needed a quarterback to lead the way. Very quickly in the preseason, Alex Park ’14 established himself as the building block of this rebuilt attack.
Park began his collegiate career at the University of New Hampshire but decided it was not the right school for him. The 6’1”, 200-pound signal-caller obtained a release from his scholarship at the end of spring ball during his freshman year. After searching for other schools, Park ended up settling on Dartmouth for its combination of strong academics and a competitive football program.
“Dartmouth just seemed like a better fit,” he said. “I thought it gave me a great opportunity to play early and also to get a world-class education.”
His year at UNH was not completely wasted, as Park was able to gain valuable football experience at the college level while watching from the sidelines.
“I learned a lot about the game of football during my redshirt year just being around it in a college program,” he said.
Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens also noticed the benefit.
“Because of his redshirt at UNH, he’s a little bit ahead,” Teevens said. “He’s mature in addition to being an accurate passer.”
Park has been the expected starter for the entire preseason, emerging as the favorite in spring practices last year and quickly ending what had the potential to be a tough positional battle. Through his early control of the starting job, Park has had extra time to develop a rhythm with his receivers.
“Since we all knew he was the guy coming out of the spring, getting started with workouts, we were able to get a connection on and off the field,” wide receiver Kirby Schoenthaler ’15 said.
Park’s athletic abilities and versatility will play a large part in the Dartmouth offense this season. In his last two years at Upper St. Clair High School, Park rushed for over 400 yards while compiling close to 2,800 yards through the air.
“Park is more athletic and mobile at the quarterback position than we’ve had in recent years,” Teevens said. “Quarterback versatility gives us the opportunity to do things that we haven’t been able to do in the past.”
Co-captain and safety Garrett Waggoner ’13, whose job is to stop Park daily in practice, also noticed the added difficulty that Park’s athleticism brings for a defender.
“He can make things happen with both his arm and his legs,” Waggoner said. “I would definitely consider him a ‘dual-threat’ quarterback.”
Park has relatively little game experience, completing six of eight passes in two appearances last season for 48 yards. Despite his lack of previous playing time, the sophomore quarterback shows little anxiety going into the team’s first game of the season.
“I feel very comfortable going into the Butler [University] game,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a few growing pains, but I know my teammates will lift me up.”
Park has also already gained the full trust of his teammates, a key factor for a successful quarterback.
“Alex is very confident in everything that he does, which is great for a quarterback,” Schoenthaler said. “It’s what you like to have in a guy. He’s a great leader. We’re very excited as a receiving corps that he’s our quarterback.”
One of Park’s highlights of last season was a 95-yard touchdown drive he engineered against Harvard University, during which he completed four of six passes for 32 yards. Park also connected on two passes for 16 yards in the Big Green blowout win over Columbia University.
“He’s showed a lot of poise as far a leadership goes, and when we get into crunch situations in practice which are scripted to put extra pressure on the offense, he’s done a tremendous job, and we have a ton of faith in him,” Waggoner said.
Park will be immediately thrown into the limelight as his first start will come this Saturday against Butler under the lights at Memorial Field. The 7 p.m. matchup will be the Big Green’s second-ever night contest at home.
“It’s always exciting playing under the lights,” he said. “But in all honesty, it’s the first game, and we’re just preparing to win.”