Sports writers Randy Peterson and Tommy Birch break down Iowa State’s matchup against No. 3 Oklahoma.
NORMAN, Okla. — Iowa State starting quarterback Jacob Park has taken a personal leave from the team and his return is unknown, the Register has learned.
Park is still on the team, Iowa State officials confirmed to the Register, but will not play Saturday — and potentially beyond — as he deals with unspecified medical issues.
“Jacob is a great young man dealing with some personal medical concerns,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said in a statement first obtained by the Register on Friday. “We are committed to helping him cope, supporting him on all levels and helping him prepare to get back on the playing field with his teammates as soon as possible.”
It’s unknown at the moment who will take over for Park as the starting QB.
Campbell was not certain of a timeline for Park’s return. In the release, he noted that he cannot discuss medical issues pertaining to his players.
“We are focused on helping Jacob in any way we can,” Campbell said. “I know how important the football team is to Jacob and how important Jacob is to the football team. But supporting one another in difficult times is where we need to be.”
Park, a redshirt junior, has thrown for 1,181 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He’s coming off his worst performance of the season when he completed just 24 of 48 passes for 246 yards and three interceptions in a loss to Texas.
Park did not travel with the team for Iowa State’s Big 12 Conference contest with No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday. Campbell has previously refuted rumors that Park is suspended.
A former blue-chip recruit, Park began his college career at Georgia. He transferred to Trident Technical College in South Carolina — a school that doesn’t even have a football program, keeping in shape by playing in a church football league with friends. Park later attended Northeast Oklahoma A&M, where he attended school and joined the football team, but never played.
The 2016 season began with Park on the bench as starter Joel Lanning’s backup. The two eventually shared snaps before Park took over the starting spot at the end of the season.
Park entered this season as the clear-cut starter and the centerpiece of Campbell’s rebuild at Iowa State. The Cyclones had so much faith in him that they moved Lanning to linebacker, leaving unknowns Zeb Noland and Kyle Kempt as his top back-ups.
Park, who became a father in the offseason, talked about how important it was for him to succeed and achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.
“Me having a kid, I have to make it to that step or my life won’t be the way I want it to be,” Park said in an interview with the Register in March. “It’s coming down to almost a do-or-die situation, and I can’t fail.”
After a strong start to the season, Park struggled against the Longhorns last week and was emotional on the sidelines. Campbell stood by Park during his weekly press conference in Ames on Monday.
“I don’t worry too much about Jacob Park,” Campbell said at the time. “He’s got a nice little swagger about him. I think he’ll be ready to rock and roll.”
By Friday, though, Park was away from the team.
Noland has played just one game and failed to complete the lone pass he’s thrown. Kempt played in just one game this season at Akron.
Kempt has the most experience of the two. He began his career at Oregon State and transferred to Hutchinson Community College. Kempt played in two games last season, completing both of his 2 passes, for 15 yards.
Then there’s Lanning, who is listed as a starter at middle linebacker but also got playing time on offense this season.