Fit To Help

Nicholas Parker has waited a long time to get as close to some playing time in an actual game as he appears to currently be. A couple of years, to be exact.

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In the media guide it says he redshirted in 2010. It also says he did not see action in 2011.

Now it's 2012, and we're hearing Parker's name called by the first-year head coach, Hugh Freeze, as a running back who is making progress. He's gotten in better shape. He's getting more reps. He could be in a game soon. Time will tell.

"It's been a tough road, rocky, ups and downs," Parker, a South Panola product, admitted after practice Friday. "Get your hopes up, a running back might go down, you think your fixing to play, but then you don't get in. You've just got to stick with it. It's all about your mentality. Just stick with it and work hard."

So Parker stuck with it. And stuck with it. But it was tough.

Parker was used to playing. He was used to winning. Neither was happening at Ole Miss. There were those who encouraged him, and he needed that.

"My family kept me going," he said. "And now with (Strength & Conditioning) Coach (Paul) Jackson and his staff, they keep me going, too. They're very energetic. Can't fail. Just got to go out here and do it."

Parker checks in now at 5-foot-11, 235 pounds. He's worked to get there, to get in shape, to contribute. And he's avoided some things, some of them that were pretty dear to him in the past.

"I had to give up all that bread and all that McDonald's and Wendy's I used to eat," he said. "Hot and spicy. That was tough (to give up)."

Now that he's in shape he wants to stay in shape. But he also has worked to "run behind his pads."

Nick Parker
Chuck Rounsaville

It's something he has learned to do better, to be more productive, and being in better shape has helped that as well.

"I just feel better now, more comfortable," said Parker, who came to Ole Miss as a highly-touted, first-team All-State player with a list of accolades befitting a future star in college and perhaps beyond. "I'm just leaner and can do more.

"As a bigger back, you should always fall forward and not backward," he continued. "I've got more movement. I want to keep working hard with Coach Jackson and stay in tune with the offense. Keep myself in good shape."

He also wants to get a shot to help in this offense. He likes what he sees. He knows he can help, and says when it's third and short and the Rebels need a few yards, give him the football.

"When (Freeze and staff) first got here I was like ‘Man, I've never run this offense in my whole life.' Once you get used to it, it's OK," Parker said. "Get the tempo down and the pace and the schedule, it's fine. Keep the ball rolling. Keep the chains moving. No huddle. Run and gun. I like it."

Nick Parker is ready to like all things football again. It's been a tough two years, but now he says he's finally ready to contribute. We're hearing from time to time from his coaches that he just might.

"It's been very frustrating," Parker said of the last two falls. "I just felt like I couldn't do nothing to help my team. I did all I could in practice. A lot of times (I wasn't sure if it would work out). But I just stayed with it."

Which, as it's turning out, was the wise thing to do.

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