His name is Vernon Parker, and he’s a 6-foot, 205-pound kicking specialist from Yelm. And he was just another face in the crowd at Interlake High School until his right leg turned Turner into an old-school American Express commercial.
The first kick was from 40 yards and it would have been good from 55. The final kick was from 50 yards in front of a bunch of 6-foot-5 linemen that cleared them easily and would have been good from 65.
When Parker knew it was good, he went nuts. The Wyoming coaches that were there to coach went nuts. They all started hugging each other. It was a very cool scene. And everyone else was just as excited; after all, you don’t see a leg like that in action every day.
“He’s ready D1 right now,” said former Washington kicker Ryan Perkins, who has been coaching up Parker the last three years. “He’s a big boy too; nothing is going to scare him.”
“The Wyoming coach, they really liked me,” added Parker. “They gave me a card and told me to contact them and talk about maybe getting an offer soon. Portland State is talking to me. I just have to go to the different coaches and see if they liked me or not.”
To find out more about Parker, we have to back up a number of years. Born in Germany, Parker’s Dad, who is in the U.S. Army, was transferred to this area. So the family moved to the United States. Soccer was always Parker’s first love. He wanted to be a professional soccer player. That was his goal.
“When I was in eighth grade, a coach came into my house and he was begging me to play nose guard first,” Parker said. “He also wanted me to kick the ball, so I kicked the ball. Then I just really loved kicking the ball, so that’s what got me interested.
“Since I came to the states my major thing was soccer; I didn’t like football. But the first day playing football, I just fell in love with football. Soccer is now just a fun hobby. I’m trying to go to the NFL. That’s my dream.”
And of course the Seattle Seahawks are the team Parker wants to kick for. To chase that dream, Parker will finish his Yelm career as a four-year varsity starter. And on top of it, he’s working on dual U.S./Germany citizenship.
“During practice I’m kicking the ball between 60 and 65 yards,” he said. “On kickoffs, it’s 80 to 85 yards.”
Primarily a kicking specialist, Parker does punt too, and if coaches want him to punt he won’t say no. He averages 45-55 yards a punt with 3.8-4.2 hang time.
Sunday’s Rough Diamonds Camp was the first showcase camp Parker has attended this summer, but he did work out at the UW Rising Stars a couple weeks before. “They really liked me, they liked how I kick the ball,” he said when asked to describe the feedback he received from the Husky coaches. “They said I get the ball off really quickly. They really like me and they are looking forward to talking to me soon.”
Besides UW, Parker is also talking to Missouri - but expect that list to grow exponentially after his performance this past weekend. It was that impressive. And Wyoming looks to have thrown their hat into the ring based on seeing a few kicks in person.
“If the best offer is in another state, I’d go to school there,” Parker said, obviously not immune to travel.
“Today was a good day,” said Perkins. “A lot of times with kickers that have a big leg, they rely on it too much instead of the accuracy piece. That’s something we’ve been working on lately and he’s really gotten it down - especially during this camp circuit. He’s really been accurate.
"Parker has a very special leg. I would say that he is the complete package with punt, kickoff, field goal. I’ve worked with him for about three years and you’re talking about pure, massive power. And he’s really honed in on the accuracy side of things, which has completed the ensemble of the package that he is. He’s very special."