Position series feature: DeVante Parker

Cardinal Authority is featuring some of the best players on the University of Louisville football team. In this story, the focus is on sophomore wide receiver DeVante Parker, who is one of the team's best offensive players.

University of Louisville sophomore wide receiver DeVante Parker isn't going to be one of the more vocal players on the roster.

"DeVante doesn't talk at all," fellow wide receiver Damian Copeland said.

But the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Parker will let his actions on the field speak for him and more often than not those sounds are going to be loud and clear.

Parker is an explosive, big-play receiver who will be one of the top offensive weapons for U of L this season. The former Ballard High School star started four games and played in 11 last season for the Cardinals.

Now, he's an every-down receiver.

"He's worked hard and is a better player than he was this time last year," U of L head coach Charlie Strong said. "He's much better all-around.

"He's like a lot of those guys in that (wide receiver) group, you can just see the confidence growing as they work harder and get better."

Parker caught a TD pass in each of the first three games last season, hauling in seven catches in the first two games. He finished with 18 catches for 291 yards and six touchdowns on the season.

He led the team in TD catches, was fourth in yards receiving and six in catches.

"I was just doing it last year, not really paying that much attention to what I was doing (stats wise)," Parker said. "But I think I'm better now. I'm more mature."

Parker finished his career at Ballard as one of the state's all-time leading receivers, an electrifying player who hauled in a total of 420 yards his senior season against in-state Class 6-A giants Trinity and St. Xavier.

"He should have been a five-star," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said.

Added backup quarterback Will Stein: "I knew he put up like 250 yards against Trinity and St. X. So, yeah I knew he was a good player but last year solidified that thought about him. It didn't take long to see he was really good."

Parker was really good as a freshman, but he's also really quiet. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said he's one of those guys who isn't going to say much but will "be the one leading by example."

"He really doesn't talk," Copeland said. "He's a big jokester, but when he's out there he doesn't say much and he just plays. I was very surprised watching him come in as a freshman and making plays like that. I didn't know he was that good – but he sure caught my eye in last fall camp."

Parker caught a TD pass one out of every six catches but said he wasn't totally pleased with his performance. He wanted to get stronger, so he could be more physical with the defensive backs and Bridgewater noted that his star receiver is "playing faster because he's more confident."

(Senior) Andrell Smith has helped me a lot, showing me what I need to do and what I need to work on," Parker said. "Physically, I am stronger and more physical. I think it will help me get off the ball better. If somebody jams me, will get off easier.

"I am a big player for this team and I think I can make big plays. I expect to have a good season for us. We could be the best wide receiver group in the country."

Parker said he isn't one to make individual goals, but his teammates believe the sky is the limit for the sophomore.

"Now it's like, ‘Oh my God how much better can this guy get?'" Stein said. "He reminds me a lot of A.J. Green guy from Georgia, who plays for Bengals. He has height, he has athleticism, he can jump, he can run and catch and runs great routes.

"He can run every route in the book. He's just really, really good."

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