December 2, 2009

Recruiting heats up for SC linebacker

Justin Parker is one of the most talented linebackers in the 2010 recruiting class and the six-foot-three 230-pound Beaufort High (S.C) star is looking for a school to call home for the next four years. Parker racked up 147 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles this season. The two South Carolina colleges have been working Parker hard for a long time, but several other schools including LSU, Georgia Tech and Tennessee are working their way into the picture now.

"Everything with recruiting is still going well for me," Parker said. "Recently I got the offer from LSU and I have been hearing from Tennessee now as well. I just got a home visit from Coach Shane Beamer from South Carolina; I am supposed to meet with LSU assistant coach John Chavis tomorrow and Clemson on Sunday. Things are going pretty well."

When the coaches come in for visits, Parker is looking for truth in their eyes.

"I am a good judge of character and I get a feeling when coaches are talking to me I can feel the difference between the truth and the non-truth," he said. "I just listen to what they say about the school and not only the football program. I am interested in the graduate rates and the team's overall GPA. What do they do for the student athletes during the season to help them in terms of tutoring and anything like that in season and out of season."

Parker enjoyed his visit with Coach Beamer this week.

"Coach Beamer has been on me since my freshman and sophomore year. I have grown pretty close to him. He has always been checking up and me and my family," Parker said. "That is a big thing for me."

One of the biggest misconceptions about the talented linebacker is that he will only seriously consider South Carolina schools. Parker in fact is more interested in exploring things outside the Palmetto State.

"I feel a lot of people think I am in an instate lean, but the only reason I have mentioned South Carolina and Clemson so much is that I know a lot more about those programs. I have not been many places," Parker said. "I was born and raised down in South Carolina and I have not been many places, but I am willing to go wherever I feel comfortable."

"I think where I feel comfortable is the biggest factor. I have talked things over with my family and we have discussed things. They are behind me on wherever I decide to go," he said. "The funny thing is that I am from South Carolina, but I have family everywhere. I have family in California, Louisiana and cousins in Atlanta, they are everywhere. That is why it is not going to be an issue where I go. I feel a lot of people have shied away from offering because they fear I am going to stay instate."

The Jackets cooled on their recruitment on Parker after hearing about his possible lack of interest in leaving South Carolina and that is one of the things he is trying to clear up.

"I know when I talked to Georgia Tech assistant coach Brian Jean-Mary he said he had heard that. He knows a lot of people down here and they have been saying there is no way Parker leaves the state," he said. "Nobody knows me like me. That is just the way it is."

So far, Parker has two official visits set up and one already in the books.

"I know that I am going to take an official in January to Clemson and an official to LSU, but I have not set up a firm date because I have to talk it over with my brother because he is going with me," he said. "The other two I am not sure about. I have already taken my official to South Carolina."

Conference prestige is not a selling factor for Parker.

"People are constantly trying to sell me on the fact the SEC is the superior conference over the ACC and none of that stuff matters to me," he said. "I hear it all, but conference is not going to make a difference. I am not choosing a school based on the conference."

Five schools are in the lead right now for Parker's services including the two South Carolina schools.

"My top schools I am looking at are South Carolina, LSU, Clemson, Tennessee and of course Georgia Tech. I am looking at a lot of different schools right now," Parker said. "That is why I am going to wait to commit until the end of January or on signing day."

Parker will showcase his talents in a pair of high school all-star games and he feels that coupled with all the coaching carousel moves will heat up his recruitment next month.

"I got a feeling it is going to pick up after I play in the Shrine Bowl and the Offense/Defense All-American game. I am training hard getting ready for those two games," he said. "I think the changes in staff are a big deal to me. When you have a guy like Bobby Bowden who has been at Florida State as long as I have been born and they showed him the door that makes you sit back and wait to see if the people recruiting me are going to be at the school when I get there. In all actuality, those are the people you feel comfortable with to commit to. If they are not there it changes the whole atmosphere."

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