Spotlight on camp surprise: RB Willie Parker

<b>LATROBE – </b>Willie Parker is the fifth-string running back with the Steelers, but he's the fastest back, or perhaps player, on the team. He's a 5-10, 209-pound rookie from North Carolina, where he rushed for 181 yards on 48 carries as a senior. The total was a four-year low for Parker and led to his undrafted free-agent status. Parker's best season was 2001 when he carried 83 times for 400 yards, including a 131-yard game against Auburn. <br><br> Today, we present Willie Parker:

JW: How's everything going for you?
WP: Everything's going great for me. I'm learning the plays, I know the offense a little better, I'm out here making plays, I'm out here having fun, so everything's going great.
JW: Nobody knows a thing about you, except they just see a blur. What do you run the 40 in?
WP: I got a 4.2 before, but I can run a 4.3 consistently.
JW: So why didn't you get more attention?
WP: I wouldn't say me and the coach didn't get along in college, but he – my running back coach – made it hard for me all throughout college. As soon as he got there he just made it so hard for me. Everything I did was wrong. He used to always tell me I had the most talent and everything, but that don't mean the person with the most talent gonna play. He said I gotta do a lot of things off the field, just a lot of things.
JW: This team doesn't bring in people who are trouble off the field, so I assume you're not trouble off the field.
WP: Nah, I'm not a trouble guy. He just made it hard for me, like I said.
JW: Did you have a problem picking up the plays?
WP: Nah, it wasn't nothing with the plays; it wasn't none of that. He just had a thing with me. You could ask anybody. All the fans used to be wondering ‘Why Willie Parker ain't playing? He the best. Why this? Why that?' It just didn't happen, but I thank The Man Up Above for giving me another chance, another opportunity, to play the game that I love.
JW: Do you feel you've opened some eyes here?
WP: Yeah, I feel like I opened some eyes and like I'm going to get that little college thing back and get the coaches back on my side and prove a lot of people wrong.
JW: If you're really fast, scouts don't care what your running backs coach thinks. Did you run a 4.3 for scouts?
WP: Yeah, at our little pro timing day at Carolina. I really don't know why I didn't get that much attention. I really don't know all of that.
JW: The word going around the media is that you're a fumbler. I asked one of the scouts about it and he said, ‘You guys hear so much crap. You don't know what you're talking about.' So what's the story?
WP: How can I be a fumbler when I didn't hardly play? They used to make a lot of excuses when the fans used to like bring in there little questions to ask on TV, like ‘Why Willie don't do this? Why Willie don't do that?' But how can I be a fumbler when I ain't even hardly touched the ball? They threw me in on certain plays and I'd break a long run and they'd take me out. And then I'd be in and I'd be cold or something. So what? I fumbled one time and I'm cold. I don't really know.
JW: How many times did you fumble in college?
WP: Ummmm, like twice.
JW: I haven't seen you fumble here. What about this game? They like to give guys like you a chance in the first preseason game. Are you excited?
WP: Yeah. I'm excited. I'm excited. It's another opportunity for me and I'm really excited about playing this game, the game I love, and I'm really excited.
JW: Carolina kids tend to be Steelers or Redskins fans. Are you?
WP: I was a Cowboys fan.
JW: Aw, man.
WP: Yeah, that's what everybody says. I just used to like Dallas.
JW: What about that screen pass you took from Tommy Maddox the other day? I know no one's tackling in practice, but nobody touched you either.
WP: Yeah (laughs). That's the thing. Yeah, well, I'm just having fun out here, man. I love it, man. I ain't a Cowboy fan; I'm a Steeler fan.
JW: I know. Well, how have the Bus and those guys been treating you?
WP: Oh, all those guys, they the main reason I learned the whole playbook, man, and feel confident about myself. I ask them questions, take notes from them, write it down in my little book, my little notepad. I mean, I learned a lot of stuff from those guys, man. Those are some great guys.
JW: Thanks Willie, and good luck.
WP: Thanks man.

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