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Prospect watch: Upper St. Clair's Austin Park

| Sunday, July 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Upper St. Clair center Austin Park (50) blocks for quarterback Dakota Conwell during the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at Heinz Field on Saturday, November 26, 2011. (Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review)

AUSTIN PARK

5-foot-11, 260 pounds, C, Upper St. Clair

Austin Park wasn't blessed with the accurate arm of his brother, Alex, or the sheer size of his brother, Ian, but the Upper St. Clair senior offensive lineman has the brains and brawn to match both.

Entering his third season as a starter, Park is regarded as one of the top centers in the WPIAL. Ivy and Patriot league schools have taken notice of not only of his 4.2 grade-point average and scores of 29 on the ACT and 1,950 on the SAT but also his ability to bench-press 350 pounds and squat 550.

Park is receiving interest from Dartmouth (where Alex Park is expected to start at quarterback), Princeton and Yale of the Ivy League and Bucknell, Fordham and Lafayette of the Patriot League. Austin hasn't let being six inches shorter than brother Ian, now a freshman at Northwestern, hinder his play.

“Whenever you line up against a guy way bigger, he thinks, ‘This guy is small,' ” Park said. “Beating them is the best feeling. I'm used to being underestimated.”

Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render said Austin's ability to move — he was timed at 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 4.7 in the short shuttle — let the Panthers incorporate running plays that involve Park pulling from his center position.

“He's built like a high school lineman,” Render said. “He really has a lot of attributes I would look for in a center. If the center is smart, he can be the conductor on the line. He's smart and experienced. He's played every snap for two years.”

Park showcased his ability at the Rivals.com/VTO camp this past spring, where he earned co-MVP honors among offensive linemen. Now he's hoping to have a stellar senior season.

“This year, my experience is going to come into play,” Park said. “Not a lot of guys have played three years of Quad-A football. Knowing what to expect helps a lot.”

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