With Scout.com's 2010 State Rankings coming out this week and SCPrepNation.com's 2010 State Rankings set to be released this evening one name that has constantly crept up since the end of last season is Beaufort High LB Justin Parker. Currently rated 3-stars by Scout.com Parker has managed to earn 8 scholarship offers to this point. Excuse us for being a little uppity though because after watching him absolutely punish some opposing teams during his junior season that number of offers should probably be at least double what it currently is. So we sat down with Parker and had a lengthy interview to discuss a number of topics.
Since the end of last season Parker has grown another inch and a half to 6'2 1/2 and added a few pounds to his frame as well moving up to 228 pounds. That bodes bad news for opponents and should help open a few more eyes in regards to college coaches. After telling that we had him rated the #1 LB prospect in the state we asked Parker if the nod still keeps him motivated to stay on top here in the state but to try and move up in the national rankings as well.
"Yes sir! Without a doubt I feel that every time I'm in the gym or on the field that if I don't give 100% every single time someone else out there is and then I'm letting myself down. When I do that everything else will fall into place."
That tremendous effort of giving his very all shined brightly over the past 2 seasons for Beaufort High. "As a sophomore I played OLB and had 6 interceptions. Last year as a junior I played ILB and had 97 tackles while missing 2 games due to an injury."
One game especially stood out in terms of numbers for Parker last season. "I would have to say the Summerville game last year was my best game. I had 23 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 TFL. It was for the region championship but we came up just a little short."
During his career Justin has seen some pretty high level talent. One player stands above all the rest in his eyes though as the toughest he's ever lined up against. "A.J. Green from Summerville, he was a special player."
This offseason Parker hasn't been to many team camps yet but he hopes to change that in the near future with visits to Tennessee, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. That aspect may be a big part of the reason why he doesn't hold more offers at this point. We're pretty confident that once he gets out on the camp circuit and coaches are able to lay eyes on him and see him shine that he'll start to pull in more schollies.
"So far I've just been to the SC Shrine Bowl Combine and a couple of 7 on 7's. I did okay at the combine but not good enough for my standards. In both of the 7 on 7's our team started slow but we got it going towards the end. I like the improvement that we are making."
"I feel we will have a good year. We lost a lot of players but if we do the things we need to do over the summer we will be where we want to be at the end. My goal for our team is of course win region and always play for each other when we are on the field."
Parker also talked about what he'd like to accomplish on a personal level too. "My personal goal is to gain the trust of my teammates, and to let them know everytime I step on the field I give everything I got." That mindset is far from the norm compared to most top prospects when it comes to individual goals but it's sure to open the eyes of college coaches who relish a strong performer who puts the team first and foremost.
Looking ahead to college Justin talked about the factors that will indeed weigh heavily in his decision making process. "The main factor is education. After that it's the relationship with coaches, and playing time. Location is not a factor for me."
Justin currently has offers on the table from South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina State, Maryland, Wake Forest, Central Florida, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt. From that group he says the in-state powers are pressing him the hardest currently.
"I would say Clemson and USC are even."
There are a couple of schools that Parker feels may be on the verge of extending him offers in the near future. "I'd say Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, and Tennessee could be the next schools to offer me."
Still there a number of schools out there that Justin says he'd love to hear a lot more from before too long.
Asked to assess the state of his game currently Parker replied, "Right now I would have to say my strengths are my sideline to sideline speed, open field tackling, and my instincts. I'm working hard this offseason on improving my cover skills, my speed, and overall strength to become a better all around player."
While we divulged to Parker that we felt he was undervalued he had this to say about the statement. "Yes I feel that I'm overlooked in a lot of ways. I really don't know what I have to do. I'm working really hard on getting stronger and faster right now. So I will just let my play on the field do all my talking. I will open a lot more eyes soon."
As for when Parker might make a final call on his college destination he offered us this statement. "At this time I feel it will be on Signing Day but if something feels right it could be earlier."
SCPrepNation.com will continue to keep you up to date with Justin Parker and other top prospects from the Palmetto State so keep it dialed in right here!
BEAUFORT'S JUSTIN PARKER