SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 10

The Pony Stampede staff will be at every SMU fall camp practice this month and will provide exclusive stories, videos, and observations. Today we reflect on Day 10.

Parks ready to assume starting role

By EJ Holland

When Chris Parks found out that fellow cornerback James Richardson had torn his ACL, he immediately grabbed his cell phone and texted his injured teammate to make sure everything was okay.

"I told him to keep his head up once he comes back, he'll come back strong, and we'll fight for this spot again," Parks said. "He's been supportive of me too. He told me it was my turn now."

It definitely is Parks' turn now. Richardson had been the talk of camp and had all but sealed his spot as the starting right corner. But the injury will cause Richardson to miss the entire 2012 season, meaning Parks will be the starter when SMU travels to Baylor in just a few short weeks.

"I just have to step up that's the only thing I can do. That was just my initial thought," Parks said. "They passed me the torch so now it's my job to step up and make plays. It feels great. I've been praying about this so now I just have to ball and show people what I can do."

A junior, Parks has spent the last two seasons primarily playing on special teams. Last season, he recovered a fumble for a touchdown against TCU and believes that experience will negate the pressure he now faces in an expanded role in the secondary.

"Playing on special teams is definitely going to help me out because that first time you're on the field you have the nerves," Parks said. "Of course in the first game you're going to have nerves, but experience helps out a lot because I feel comfortable on the field.

"I'm really not experiencing a lot of pressure. They told us we were close in the battle anyway. I was fighting for the position, and I was just going to wait till game day to see what happened. Now, all I have to do is keep working hard."

Parks has always prepared as if was going to be the starter. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Parks has great length and athleticism. Coming out of high school, he was a two-way player and is still raw, which is why he focused on improving his technique during the offseason.

"I feel like I can be a lockdown corner. I just have to show what I can do. I have quick speed so I can run with receivers and press them at the line," Parks said. "This summer, I focused on doing all the little things right. Last year, some of my techniques weren't right. In press coverage, I need to move my feet quicker. I also worked on making plays on the ball."

The entire defensive backfield has been showing Parks support especially Kenneth Acker, who will be starting at corner on the other side. Acker already has a year of starting experience under his belt, and the two have developed a friendship since enrolling at SMU together three years ago.

"They've just been telling me this is what you've been waiting for and it's your turn so show them what you've got," Parks said. "Me and Acker came in together so we've been waiting to play with each other. He's been motivating me and giving me advice. We do a little smack talking here and there as far as who's going to get more picks so it's all fun."

Parks says his main goal is not to get beat deep this season, something he experienced when Washington State's Marquess Wilson burned him as a freshman. Parks saw little time at corner after that but is ready to put the past behind him and make plays.

Video: OL Taylor Lasecki talks about his fall camp experience

Young Nose Tackle Learning From Veterans

By Beionny Mickles

Having depth at any position on the field is great and fortunately, the defensive line this year for the Mustangs has a great deal of players behind the starters who are hungry to show their worth. One of them is third string nose tackle Darrian Wright, who says he's feeling good about the defense and hopes to see some playing time.

"I feel pretty good," said the sophomore out of Dayton (TX). "Right now I'm third string behind Pitt and Spike so I'm just going to do my best to get in there and when I do I'm going to go hard every time and make sure I do my thing so the defense can work around me."

Playing behind seniors Torlan Pittman and Spike Davis has given him an opportunity to learn the position from two veterans who really know the ropes. Wright says it's definitely made him a better player.

"I've learned a lot of things behind Pitt and Spike," he said. "I've learned to work hard and use my hands. They've taught me a lot of things like swarming to the ball every time and making sure I get the technique down that Coach (Bert) Hill's taught us to do, and keep it going every day."

Wright says that he enjoys playing under defensive coordinator Tom Mason from whom he's also learned a lot.

"Coach Mason, I like him a lot he's teaching me a lot of things," Wright said. "He's just like every other coach. He's here for us and every day he makes sure that we're here to work and makes sure that we're doing everything right."

Wright says that his main focus this year is to get on the field and make more plays than last year especially more tackles. He believes that the defense as a whole can be better than the defense of 2011 and with veterans like Pittman and Davis he's confident that they'll be ready to compete with anybody.

"The defense is going to be good this year. I think better than last year's," Wright said. "We've got more veteran players who've been here longer and now it's our time to do our thing. I think we'll be ready."

Wright must learn quickly and should see time on the field as he prepares to move into the starting role 2013 as a result of losing both Pittman and Davis to graduation.

Day 10 Observations:

- Practice was cut short today due to fall banquet

- Jordan Free was back at practice today and was involved in the rotation

- Seaver Myers continues to get starting reps as Stavion Lowe tries to get back into shape

- Jeremy Gray was moved from safety to corner today and immediately took reps on the second team with Keith Robinson

- We paid close attention to Chris Parks today. The new starter at corner has good speed and athleticism but lacks proper technique

-Derek Longoria and even Ronnell Sims got scout team work at safety

- Der'rikk Thompson was on the sideline catching balls all day and working on the jugs machine with Colin LaGasse. Both did not scrimmage or participate in any drills.

- Darius Johnson participated in drills but did not scrimmage

- Ja'Gared Davis came across the field and received a lateral from AJ Bufinni on a kick return and sprinted up field for a nice splash play in coverage drills today.

- Stephen Nelson got a shout of praise from wide receivers coach Jason Phillips after he beat new starting cornerback Chris Parks right off of the line of scrimmage today. Phillips yelled "Good Job Stevie!"

- Garret Gilbert was overthrowing some receivers today, which means they all must work more on timing

- Daijuan Stewart didn't have a good day, dropped a number of passes that hit him in the hands including a perfectly placed ball by Gilbert on a corner post between the safety and cornerback thrown to the sideline.

- Zach Line looked very shifty and speedy in 11-on-11's today.

- Arrius Holleman practiced with his right leg wrapped up in some sort of bandage.

- Keenan Holman made the play of the day catching a touchdown that was thrown about 40 yards in the air with Acker right on his hip. The ball couldn't have been thrown any better by Gilbert and Holman, who has been dropping a lot of balls this camp, caught it and made it look easy.

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