Smalltown running back hopes for VU offer

In four incredible years with Addison High School, Caleb Parker has accomplished just about everything there is for a high school running back to accomplish. Except, that is, attract a major college scholarship.

Last week Addison (Ala.) High School running back Caleb Parker capped off a stellar season for the Bulldogs with a state championship and an MVP trophy. In his senior season he rushed for 1,510 yards and 25 touchdowns, and was awarded the prestigious Wendy's High School Heisman in Alabama.

In four incredible years with Addison, the 6-foot-0, 185-pounder has accomplished just about everything there is for a high school running back to accomplish.

Except, that is, attract a major college scholarship.

Last Friday in Birmingham, Addison claimed the Class 1A crown with a 21-12 victory over Brantley. Parker, who led the Bulldogs with 84 yards rushing and 49 receiving, caught a touchdown pass just before halftime to pull Addison within 12-7, and later scored on a 2-yard run to put his team ahead for good. He walked away from Legion Field with the game MVP trophy.

"It was a dream come true," Parker said Monday. "We had been thinking all year that we had a good chance to win the championship, and that this was our year. We were kind of sloppy in the first half, but Coach did a good job of making adjustments at halftime, and we just ran the ball and played good defense.

"I can't take full credit for it. Football is a team sport. You can't do anything by yourself."

Maybe not, but for the last four years Parker has nearly been a one-man show for Addison, a small town that loves its high school football. As a freshman, Parker became one of the few football players at any level to score seven touchdowns in a game, including two long kickoff returns. "Everything was just working for us that night," he remembers of his record-setting night three years ago.

Football always came easy for Parker, but getting the attention of college coaches he has found to be much tougher. Only one major college has shown him much interest, and that one, coincidentally, is his current favorite: Vanderbilt.

"I camped up there last summer, and they seemed to like me," he said. "Coach Robbie Caldwell calls me once a week. For a while I thought they were going to offer a scholarship-- I had some real good games, and I sent them some game film-- but he hasn't said anything about it in a while now."

Parker visited Vanderbilt unofficially for a couple of games this fall, and Caldwell went to Addison on a Friday to watch one of his games. But with Vanderbilt's signing class quickly filling up, his chances of landing an offer appear to be dwindling.

Parker has been timed as fast as 4.49 in the 40, so speed is not the issue. Perhaps there are concerns about his size, or the level of competition-- or maybe it's just that recruiters don't get to smalltown Addison too often.

Still, after his performance in the Super Six, a couple of smaller in-state schools (UAB, Jacksonville State, West Alabama, Samford) have jumped in to show him some love. His only offer so far is from West Alabama.

Parker also plays cornerback, and held his own against blue-chip receiver Terrell Zachery (an Auburn commitment, one of the best receivers in the state) when Addison defeated Wadley in the playoffs. With his speed and sure hands Parker might wind up as a receiver at the next level.

For the moment, he's keeping his options open, and holding out faint hopes that the Commodores might come through with an offer.

"That [Vanderbilt] would be my first choice, because of the education they offer," Parker said. "I'd like to do some kind of engineering. To be able to play SEC ball and get a degree like that, that would be the best thing for me."

Walking on somewhere is a possibility too. Parker grew up an Auburn fan, and might give the in-state Tigers a look if nothing materializes in the way of a scholarship.

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