"Carlis Parker is a phenomenal athlete," Statesville head coach Randall Gusler said. "… He's truly a dual threat quarterback. The kid is very tall, very lean, but is also super fast. And he's very strong in the weight room. He's very elusive for a long-strider. He makes moves and jukes you just don't expect out of a 6-4, 6-5 guy. "
"[Parker] came in here and he was a big, tall, left-handed kid that had never played quarterback," Gusler said. "I said, ‘Look, we're going to have to put him as a quarterback.'"
As a freshman, Parker started at quarterback on Statesville's junior varsity team. Midway through the season, he was elevated to varsity.
"I couldn't take it any longer and we went ahead and moved him up to varsity," Gusler said. "We played him the last five games as a varsity quarterback – we were kind of having a struggling year anyway. We felt like we should get his feet wet and see what he could do."
That off-season, Gusler, who had run the wing-T for 17 years, installed a spread offense.
"We put the spread offense in to accommodate Carlis and Tristan [Mumford]," Gusler said. "We looked at those two in our backfield and the number of receivers we had coming back and said, ‘Hey, we're going to spread this thing out.'"
The experience, coupled with the offensive system change, paid off for both Statesville and Parker. Statesville improved to 7-6 from 3-8 the previous year, and Parker ended his sophomore campaign with 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air and 1,800 yards and 11 scores on the ground.
With those results, Parker and Statesville headed into the 2011 season with expectations high. Unfortunately, Parker's season ended prematurely because of an ACL tear.
"Before the season, [my ACL] was just hyper extended," Parker said. "I hyper extended it during a scrimmage we had a week before our first game. It was to the point where I could play on it, I just didn't have full flexibility on it. After the first game, it just completely tore."
The silver lining of missing the season was improving the mental aspect of his game.
"I really learned a lot," Parker said. "Going through an injury like that and missing your junior year was big, but I learned a lot watching Tristan play quarterback and that made me a stronger player."
Parker had made a big enough impression on college coaching staffs as a sophomore that he already had collected six scholarship offers – East Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
"His highlight tape his sophomore year was just phenomenal," Gusler said. "… He had enough highlights to fill up 27 minutes. It starts off with five runs of over 80 yards."
Parker spoke to Larry Fedora on Wednesday , and the Tar Heel head coach confirmed that his UNC offer was still valid.
"[Fedora] was just asking about recruiting and where I have visited," Parker said.
Parker has visited all six schools that have offered him, plus Clemson and Duke. He stopped in at UNC's spring practice last year.
After his senior season, Parker plans to make a verbal commitment.
"I'm still real open," Parker said. "I don't really want to rush anything. I just want to make the best decision for me. I want to find a school that fits me most and will let me play right away."
Parker admits that UNC's switch to a spread offense makes the Tar Heels more enticing.
"I definitely like that a lot more," Parker said. "But, I wouldn't mind being in a pro-style offense."
Parker's grandmother is a Clemson graduate. Also, he grew up a Clemson fan. "That would be a school that I really would like to go to, because of family history," he said.