Stanford Seeking Out Space Coast Safety

Buddy Teevens was brought to Stanford with an eye on upgrading recruiting efforts, and Cardinalmaniacs certainly hope that a stronger survey and pursuit of defensive backs may yet finally come to The Farm. One important safety toward that end is Renford Parkes from Florida, who has Stanford and one local school squarely on his mind.

S Renford Parkes (profile)
Titusville HS (Titusville, FL)
Ht: 6'1"  Wt: 195
4.5 forty

A look at Stanford's depth chart reveals what anyone who has followed Stanford recruiting through recent years already knows: defensive back numbers have been and continue to be thin.  Indeed, the four defensive back spots are the only ones on the defensive side of the ball that do not see liberal substitutions during games, and in fact the two starting safeties play the entire game.  So it is with much intrigue that we take a look at Renford Parkes, a very important safety target for Stanford in this 2003 recruiting class.  Parkes hails from Titusville, Florida, where he has starred at strong safety and drawn an early offer from the Cardinal.

For those not familiar with Titusville, it is in neither the Miami nor Orlando areas.  Neither Jacksonville nor Tampa Bay.  Titusville instead is just off the central coastline on the Atlantic side of Florida that is more broadly known as the Space Coast, within shouting distance of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.  I am intimately familiar with the area, having had grandparents there and countless vacations for the past 20-plus years.  And while the area is best known for the Kennedy Space Center and its beaches, you should hit Titusville for the best shrimp in the country at Dixie Crossroads...

But back to football, Parkes has played both defensive back and linebacker in his Titusville career, but is a standout strong safety in his senior season with 110 tackles through seven games to lead the area.  He is excited about his play this year, describing it as "pretty strong" on both sides of the ball.  Spot duty at wide receiver has produced 300 yards and five scores thus far.  His Titusville team is currently 3-4 against a tough schedule, including three of the top teams in the state of Florida to date.

Strong safety suits Renford Parkes well, given that he most enjoys the run-stuffing part of his duties.  "As a defensive back, your first responsibility is to stop the pass," he says, "but most teams don't throw my way.  So I have to come up and stop the run to get to the ball.  For me, it's just more fun tackling.  I love big hits, and those are what can really hype up your team for big turnarounds."

Saftey is where every school that has offered Parkes says they see him playing, including Stanford, Central Florida, South Florida, Rutgers, Connecticut, Duke and Bethune-Cookman.  Stanford, UCF and USF are the three schools calling and writing the most frequently and seriously, according to Parkes, though Stanford and UCF are his two leaders today.

You can count the number of recruiting battles between Stanford and UCF on one hand, if not on one finger, but this is really a battle between Stanford and distance.  Parkes has never been out to Stanford, and knows that both geographically and culturally he could find himself a world away from home.

Says Parkes about his two leaders and decision process, "UCF is close to home - just an hour away, and their coaches are pretty cool.  I have been around there a lot and am pretty familiar with everybody.  Stanford is all the way out in California, but if I feel comfortable there, it will be tough not to commit.  I am looking for the best of both worlds, where I can get a good job with my degree after I graduate and at the same time play big time football as part of a winning program.  But it will come down to the visit - will I be comfortable with the school and can I see myself there?"

To that end, he has setup two visits at this time, crossing the country to Stanford on December 6th, then making the short jog to Orlando for UCF on January 3rd.  He has not set any of his other visits yet because he wants to wait and see if any other schools jump forward with offers, which might supercede some of his current offerees for his remaining visits.  Parkes also notes that he wants to take four or five of his visits before he makes his final decision.  "I want to see and experience as many different things and places as I can," he adds.  Even with a stellar visit to The Farm in December, he is unlikely to commit before at least his January visit to UCF.

Parkes has primarily communicated with defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Mark Banker, and he says the two "clicked" right away when they first talked.  They talk a lot of football, including conversation about both Renford's games and Stanford's games.  Parkes says that Banker is sending a clear message that he could play very early in his career at Stanford, and materially help the team.

The two have also talked about academics and the Stanford admissions application process, which Parkes is in the midst of right now.  He says he is 70% done with the application package, needing just to write his essays at this point.  In the classroom, he maintains a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the National Honors Society.  He is very fond of math, and is looking ahead to a field of study in either business management or physical therapy.  For those who like to tabulate test scores to help handicap the admissions process, Parkes scored a 21 on his ACT early in his junior year, and he just took the SAT earlier this month and is awaiting that score.  Banker has urged him to get his application submitted before his official visit date for several reasons, including the ability to make a decision during the visit.  "Coach Banker says that you cannot give a verbal commitment to Stanford until you have been accepted," he explains.

Outside of a very busy academic and football schedule, Parkes logs a good number of hours working part-time and helping in the community.  He is a member of a youth leadership group which reaches out in various projects and services to the community.

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