Parker is a gamer

CLEMSON — Kyle Parker sees himself as a gamer. That's not to mean he does not practice well, because his coaches will tell you he works as hard as anyone on the team.

But the two-sports star does appear to pick it up a little bit when the lights come on at Doug Kingsmore Stadium or in Death Valley.

As the 20th-ranked Tigers prepare for their game tonight against No. 4 Georgia Tech, Parker will try to keep his .301 batting average and team-leading 10 home runs and 45 RBIs going.

In the last 10 games, the Jacksonville, Fla., native has been on fire. Parker has hit successfully in 17 of his last 37 at-bats (.459) with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. But he isn't reserving these kinds of performances just to the baseball diamond.

It's been well-documented what he accomplished in the football program's spring game when a record Orange and White crowd of 24,000 watched him throw for 171 yards, while running and throwing for two scores.

"The thing about the spring game is that it kind of simulated a game environment." said Parker, who is in a tight battle for the starting quarterback job with Willy Korn. "I was glad to be able to go out there and show the players and the coaches how I am in the game and how I play the game so that was a pretty good thing."

His coaches noticed, as did the media and the fans.

"I think the spring game with Kyle showing up and making plays the way he did, that puts him one step closer to being our quarterback," Clemson offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Billy Napier said Friday. "He made a statement about his ability to show up and compete so I don't think (anyone is) weighing any more into that than I am.

"I was watching the same spring game you guys were, the guy is a good player. Then he went across the street and played a doubleheader."

Napier has been amazed by the production Parker has produced in both sports, despite taking 15 credit hours in school, plus 6 a.m. quarterback meetings during spring practice.

"I had him every other day basically," Napier said. "He was somewhat busy. You talk about a hectic schedule, I'm anxious to see him whenever (we start fall camp)."

The amazing part about Parker's story is that he started picking up his production in both at the same time. Besides the spring-game day, when he left Memorial Stadium and then went and hit two home runs at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, he finished spring football with four very consistent practices, while also starting the current run he is on with the baseball team.

"I guess you can say I've improved, and that's to be expected because they have given me those reps and have let me go out there," he said. "It has helped me get better every day.

"Towards the end of spring I was starting to get a little more comfortable and was getting a little better chemistry with the receivers, while gaining more knowledge of the offense. That definitely kind of helped."

Napier saw it the same way.

"Early on he was a little inconsistent I think because he was doing two sports. I think once he got a feel for what was going on, he improved," the Clemson coach said. "He is a freshman too. Don't forget that. When was the last time you saw a freshman quarterback performing to that magnitude. He is a talented kid. There is no question about it."

Parker understands what he did this spring is a good start, but by no means does it mean he is the starter. The quarterback race is very much up in the air according to Napier and as long as Parker builds off his spring with a productive summer, he will have a very good chance to be the Tigers' new quarterback.

"If you look at it from any perspective you are not going to get a starting quarterback named right now," the redshirt freshman said. "First off, I think that (Willy Korn) has played well and I have played well and you can kind of look at the both of us and see the positive things.

"I think the coaches really want the competition to go through the summer and through the fall. You can't come out and name the starter and I don't think there will be until the end of fall (camp)… The thing I probably have to improve on is just the consistency and being able to go out there every day, knowing what they expect from me and seeing myself pick up where I ended spring and go in there and have a good summer."


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