Most incoming football recruits enter college with plans of playing early, but many of these visions are not realistic. Reserve (La.) East St. John 2015 cornerback Antonio Parks may be an exception, though.
The cagey ballhawk has long stood out on the football field.
“Football has always come easy to me,” Parks said. “I wanted to play at a very early age and from the Pop Warner age on I knew that I could move and get myself involved in plays a lot of other kids couldn’t make.“I became a varsity player earlier than most and it didn’t really matter that I was thinner than everyone else because I knew how to play the game and when it all came down to everything, I just wanted to make it more and that showed up in my tackles and interceptions.”
Parks envisions a similar impact at the Pac-12 level.
“I know I’m going to go in there and compete against bigger and stronger guys defensive backs, but I’m totally ready for that," he said.
It’s not just the defensive backs Parks is looking forward to competing against.
“I’m not sure there are better receivers in the country than at Arizona," he said. "Cayleb Jones is one of my favorite players in college football. The way he plays the ball in the air is really special.
"He’s 6-foot-3 and he takes the ball at his highest point. He doesn’t always look like a speed guy, but he just knows how to play. Those are the guys that thrive for Coach Rodriguez.”
For Parks, Arizona was the perfect fit.
“I had some good offers, and, honestly, it wasn’t the easiest decision, but Coach Rodriguez has shown in the past that he isn’t scared to play kids early," Parks said. "Especially defensive backs. There are some good defensive backs coming back, but some dudes also left as well.
“If I have trouble early on, I’m just going to work harder at everything I do. Criticism doesn’t bother me in the least. To me it’s all about getting better. I believe the fans will be happy with what they see.”