Recruiting: Parsons Is One Of A Kind OL

In covering college football recruiting for more than 15 years I have spoken with a large number of youngsters and heard a lot of stories. But standout offensive lineman Thomas Parsons of Smithson Valley, Texas, told me a new story Saturday, one I had never heard before from a top prospect.

Parsons attended the Scout combine at the Dallas Cowboys training facility at Valley Ranch, Texas, near Dallas last Sunday and earned All-Combine status as an offensive line prospect. The story that he relayed to me over the phone tells you a lot about Parsons as a player, a person, and where his maturity level is as he enters his senior season and tries to make an important decision in recruiting that will effect the rest of his life.

Smithson Valley is a powerhouse high school located near San Antonio, and being on the varsity football team there, like at all high schools, is a big honor. The now 6-5 1/2, 258-pound Parsons was big when he started high school and toward the end of his freshman season as Smithson Valley was making another long playoff run he was first pulled up to the varsity. The next season, as a sophomore, it was a given that Parsons would make the varsity.

"Before the season started I went to my coaches and asked them if I could play junior varsity," Parsons said of the start of his sophomore high school season. "I knew I wasn't going to play as much and that I could play all the time on JV and really get a lot of work and improve as a player."

I've never heard of a top flight prospect, which Parsons could have been identified even then (sometimes linemen take longer to identify) asking to move to the junior varsity in order to improve. I was curious how his coaches took his request.

"They understood," said Parsons. "They looked at it in that manner and then pulled me up again for the playoffs after the JV season."

The move certainly has paid off as Parsons was an outstanding contributor on the offense line last season for the Rangers and will be one of the top offensive line prospects in Texas this fall as a senior. He is also a very hard worker that trains every night of the week to improve his strength.

On Sundays he has outside training to work on his speed. This is a young man who is very dedicated and determined to succeed at both the high school and the college level. He currently has a bench press of 330 pounds and can squat 450 pounds. He also throws the shot and the discus for the Smithson Valley track team.

His academics are also in good order as he has a qualifying SAT score to go along with a more than satisfactory GPA.

Now as for recruiting, he received his first scholarship offer on Thursday from Oklahoma State.

"Yes, I received the offer from Oklahoma State and I am hearing a lot from Texas A&M, SMU, TCU and Vanderbilt," said Parsons. "I was invited and plan on going to the spring game (April 14) at Oklahoma State."

Don't look for a commitment this spring, but it appears that Parsons won't wait until next fall either. He has a plan and said he intends to stick to it.

"I want to take some time and I want to see the schools first," he explained. "I'm thinking that I will go check out some schools in May and go to some of the camps in June so I can see the schools and meet the coaches. I'm thinking before July 25 I will think about my options and then I want to make a commitment then. When I make my commitment I want to be ready to stick with it and have recruiting taken care of before I start my senior season."

Of course it would figure that a young man willing to move down to the junior varsity to improve himself and help his team and himself down the line would have a sound game plan when it comes to making an important choice in recruiting.

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