Perhaps the most amazing thing about Stratford quarterback Jacob Park is that he’s arguably the top high school football player in the state and one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, yet he wasn’t offered a scholarship by Clemson or South Carolina.

High school football

Sunday: Top 10 players in the Lowcountry, Region 7-AAAA and 8-AAAA previews and all team schedules

Monday: Top 10 teams in the Lowcountry, Region 8-AAA and Timberland previews

Tuesday: Feature on Bishop England’s Fosberry brothers. Region 6-AA and 6-A previews

Wednesday: SCISA preview, Feature on Porter-Gaud standout Michael Preddy

Thursday: Sertoma preview: The Kinlaw family

Friday: Sertoma Day 1 coverage

Saturday: Sertoma Day 2 coverage, regular-season coverage

Park ended up committing to Georgia over Alabama to culminate an intense out-of-state recruiting battle. Locally, he’s the top player in the Lowcountry as the 2013 season approaches.

Park’s performance in Stratford’s victory over Summerville last September was a snapshot of his season and perhaps a glimpse of his future. He completed 8 of 10 passes for 215 yards and three TDs in the first half, and finished the game with 273 yards passing and four TDs.

“Each year the team has had a different persona, but Jacob has been the center of the offense,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said. “He is going to be asked to do a lot. He’s proved himself stats-wise and win-wise. We just have to develop linemen who can help keep the pressure off him.”

Park is one of six players in the Lowcountry’s top 10 who have committed to major colleges. Summerville’s Darin Smalls and Goose Creek’s Kalan Ritchie have committed to South Carolina; Goose Creek’s Caleb Kinlaw and Porter-Gaud’s Michael Preddy have committed to Georgia Tech; and Wando’s Nolan Kelleher has committed to Florida.


School: Stratford

Position: Quarterback

2012 Stats: Park completed nearly 60 percent of his passes last season for 2,239 yards and 24 touchdowns. He added more than 700 yards on the ground.

The Skinny: One of the biggest movers on the national quarterback chart this summer, Park was ultra-impressive at the Elite 11 camp and was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He has committed to play for the Georgia Bulldogs.

What the coach says: “He’s going to go down as one of the all-time recruits to come out of this area. He’s right up there with (Summerville’s) A.J. Green and the best of them.” — Ray Stackley

2. Nolan Kelleher

School: Wando

Position: Offensive line

2012 Stats: Kelleher tallied 29 knockdowns and 33 pancake blocks to earn a spot on the All-Lowcountry team.

The skinny: An outstanding student. Kelleher has good size and mobility. He’s one of the top linemen in the state, and recently ended a fierce recruiting battle when he committed to play for the Florida Gators.

What the coach says: “Nolan is a well-balanced young man with academics up there among his priorities.” — Jimmy Noonan

3. Darin Smalls

School: Summerville

Position: Defensive back

2012 Stats: Smalls recorded 58 tackles and five interceptions. He also tallied more than 600 return yards, with three returns going for touchdowns.

The skinny: Smalls isn’t tall, but he’s explosive with 4.4 speed and is able to stick with receivers. He’s intercepted 11 passes the past two years. He committed to USC over Clemson, Florida State and West Virginia.

What the coach says: “He has athleticism and listens well. That’s a good combination.” — John McKissick

4. Kalan Ritchie

School: Goose Creek

Position: Tight end

2012 Stats: Ritchie caught only six passes for 79 yards, but three went for touchdowns.

The skinny: Ritchie wasn’t the focus of the offense because of the Gators’ strong running game, but he’s physically gifted with good hands and good blocking ability. He plans to go to South Carolina.

What the coach says: “He’s a heckuva of a tight end as a blocker. We’re trying to develop him as a receiver.” — Chuck Reedy

5. Michael Preddy

School: Porter-Gaud

Position: Defensive end/ offensive line

2012 Stats: Preddy recorded 94 tackles, including 16 sacks.

The skinny: The 6-5, 250-pounder has been playing football for only two years, but is so physical he’s earned a scholarship to play at Georgia Tech. He is athletic, has a big frame and size, and he has such great potential.

What the coach says: “He has all of the attributes of a successful Division I athlete, and now you can see him really starting to come into his own on the field.” — Rick Reetz

6. Caleb Kinlaw

School: Goose Creek

Position: Running back

2012 Stats: He was slowed by injuries last fall, but still averaged 7.6 yards per carry and rushed for 1,006 yards and scored 15 TDs to bring his career totals to 3,021 yards and 31 TDs.

The skinny: Explosive with 4.4 speed, Kinlaw has made an impact dating back to his freshman year. He mixes power and speed and will be the main attraction in the Gators’ backfield. He’s an outstanding student who committed to Georgia Tech.

What the coach says: “Caleb epitomizes what a student-athlete should be. He is an outstanding football player but is also an excellent student and leader.” — Chuck Reedy

7. Terrell Green

School: Hanahan

Position: Tight end/wide receiver

2012 Stats: Green caught 12 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns.

The skinny: He’s 6-5 and the latest in line of outstanding receivers at Hanahan. Green was injured in the Bishop England game and played in only 4½ games last season. He returned late in the season and caught two TDs in a playoff victory over Myrtle Beach. He averaged 31 yards per catch last fall.

What the coach says: “I look at him as a big threat. He provides matchup problems because of his size.” — Charlie Patterson

8. Sean Smith

School: Summerville

Position: Tight end

2012 Stats: Smith caught 17 passes for 212 yards in only eight games.

The skinny: He’s a big target at 6-6, 230 pounds. He runs good routes, blocks well and works hard every day. He’s committed to Middle Tennessee State.

What the coach says: “He’s getting better every time we practice. He’s going to be a Division I player, too.” — John McKissick

9. Dantez Bennamon

School: Goose Creek

Position: Quarterback

2012 Stats: Dangerous as a passer and runner, Bennamon completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also ran for 528 yards and six touchdowns.

The skinny: Bennamon has excellent skills and leadership ability and is the perfect fit to run the option. He’s also an outstanding basketball player and is coming off all-state honors on the hardcourt. He has a 3.9 GPA.

What the coach says: “Dantez Bennamon is the most talented quarterback I’ve had in the 12 years I’ve been here. He’s a great, great leader and very smart. You look for that in your quarterback.” — Chuck Reedy

10. Reed Fosberry

School: Bishop England

Position: Defensive back

2012 Stats: Fosberry recorded 76 tackles, including 48 solo. He also had three fumble recoveries and four interceptions.

The skinny: Fosberry has been a force in the BE secondary and has helped the team win two state titles. Coach John Cantey says Fosberry could be his quarterback, but doesn’t want to play him there so he won’t have to take hits on both sides of the ball.

What the coach says: “Reed has the athletic ability and he always works on the fundamentals.” — John Cantey