Parker learning the Steele way

CLEMSON – Justin Parker has already been handed a tough assignment during his first week of practice.

Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Kevin Steele positioned Parker in the middle linebacker spot at MIKE. There, Parker's charged with the task of making the calls on the field, essentially quarterbacking the defense.

That's been the biggest adjustment Parker's had to make during the transition from high school to college.

"Last week it was kind of complicated, just trying to get the calls down. It wasn't coming to me that soon," he said. "I'm getting better at it day by day. Everything's progressing."

Head coach Dabo Swinney said Parker's been as good as advertised.

"He's just what we thought he would be—really talented, a heck of a player. I'd say he's picking it up fairly well," Swinney said.

Parker arrived to Tigertown as the Scout.com No. 13 ranked middle linebacker in the class of 2010. The former three-star was a must have for Clemson, which beat out South Carolina, LSU and Georgia Tech for his signature.

It's still too early for Parker to say how good he feels about possibly playing early.

"It's up to coach Steele and how he feels about it right now. I wouldn't know that until after camp's over," he said.

Sophomore Corico Hawkins has held the starting spot for most of the calendar year and it appears that he's cemented his starting spot. Redshirt freshman Spencer Shuey has a year up on Parker, too.

"We have a pretty deep roster at linebacker," Parker said. "I'll help the guys out. That's what I'm here for, to help them out. I'll leave all of that up to coach Steele and see how he feels about me playing."

A day afterwards, Parker said he was comfortable with Tuesday's scrimmage—his first live work in Death Valley.

"Yesterday I did pretty good. I know there are some things that I need to work on to get better at and to make myself a better player," he said.

Still, there are two more scrimmages and less than two weeks of preseason camp for Parker to prove he's can contribute this fall. And there are a couple things for him to improve each day.

"You've got all of those big guys from the o line coming at you," he said. "You've got to shed blocks and get to where the ball is."

"More of the play calling. I'm getting the majority of it down. Getting used to the speed, the speed of the game and learn how to pick up on certain things."


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