When he visited Maryland in mid-February, Andrew Park walked away with an offer and the thoughts that he had found the college where he wanted to continue his football career after high school.
But the three-star tight end from Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Va., wanted to make sure. So he returned to College Park on Thursday with his parents to tour campus and meet with the Terps coaches.
"From the beginning, I just fell in love with the campus, you know?" Park said in a phone interview over the weekend.
Maryland was the fifth school to offer Park a scholarship, and he held offers from Pittsburgh, Bucknell, Eastern Kentucky, Fordham, James Madison, Miami (Ohio) and William & Mary, according to 247sports.com, when he picked the Terps. In the 247sports Composite rankings, Park is the No. 37 tight end nationally and the No. 25 player in Virginia. Rivals.com ranks Park as the No. 27 player in the state.
Park said Maryland wide receivers coach Chris Beatty was the first to reach out to him, but it was when he started talking to offensive coordinator Walt Bell that he really started to see himself suiting up for the Terps. Bell is a former tight ends coach at North Carolina where he worked with NFL first-round pick Eric Ebron. His offensive system utilizes the tight end both in the passing game and along the line of scrimmage, and the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Park said he can contribute in both facets of the position.
"I felt like a great connection with the coaches," Park said. "We had talked a lot, and I feel close with them and comfortable with them. On the campus, it's a really cool style of modern and old-fashioned buildings. Everything's walking distance, and the Varsity, where all the athletes stay, that's like top of the line. It's so beautiful there. I just fell in love with everything."
Park said Maryland's business program was a significant draw for him, as was the impression he got from energetic coach DJ Durkin and the rest of the staff.
"I felt like they were really enthusiastic about everything and they said that everything is a competition," Park said. "That's just a great place to be around. We're competing every day in the classroom and on the field, and competing brings out the best in people. So I felt like that was a huge deal as well."
In his junior season at Lake Braddock, Park caught 26 passes for 398 yards and five touchdowns, according to The Washington Post. Park said his goal for his senior year is gain more weight and play at 245 or 250 pounds to help prepare him for college.
When he committed, Park was aware that he would occupy a distinctive position as the first recruit in Durkin's first full recruiting class at Maryland. But that was at the back of his mind. He had found the perfect opportunity in the right situation to further is football career. And he didn't want to wait any longer.
"I knew I was the first one, but that wasn't really my goal," Park said. "My goal was to find the right college and the right fit for me, so that's what I found. When you find that, you can't waste any time."