January 12, 2010

Parker narrowing his options

In the last few months, South Carolina linebacker Justin Parker has become one of the biggest targets in the Southeast. Teams have pursued the versatile linebacker all across the country, but as signing day quickly approaches the recruiting picture is clearing up and after this weekend, it may be a three-horse race between a pair of in-state schools and one other team.

Parker has maintained a top four of Clemson, Georgia Tech, LSU and South Carolina for several months, but the Bengal Tigers have hit a bit of a roadblock in their recruitment. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis scheduled an official visit with Parker for this upcoming weekend, but he has been trying to get Parker to come a different weekend and it appears time has run out for LSU.

"I was supposed to talk to Coach Chavis about my official visit there. It was supposed to happen this weekend, but they want me there next weekend. I cannot go because I am taking the SAT on the 23. I am not really sure what the deal is," he said. "I can't say I will completely eliminate them, but I can't commit there if I don't visit and I am not waiting past signing day, so we will see what happens."

After visiting Clemson recently, Parker has one more visit planned to Georgia Tech at the end of the month and he plans to announce his decision on signing day. With a little over three weeks until signing day he is leaving his options open on where he will sign.

"I don't have a leader board or anything like that," Parker said. "There isn't a top three. I am keeping everything wide open even though it is late in the process. I do a lot of research on all the schools and I want to give everyone a fair shot. I only plan to visit LSU if we can work it out and Georgia Tech. Those are the four schools."

On his in-state visits, Parker was surprised at the size of the college linebackers both Clemson and South Carolina had.

"Both my brother and myself were really shocked at how much bigger I was than the linebackers at those schools," he said. "I am taller than most of them and other than Eric Norwood at South Carolina, I was bigger than any of them. I am a few inches taller than Norwood."

Parker has two priorities when it comes to picking a program, education and playing time. He is comfortable with the educational opportunities at each of his four final programs, but the playing time element could be the biggest factor.

"I do my research. I look at the depth charts and read about all the team in-depth. I am looking to play right away and make an impact. Physically I think I am ready to play in college and I am looking to go somewhere where I can push for playing time out of the gate," he said.

Georgia Tech may be the biggest wild card in the battle for Parker. The Jackets have impressed Parker a lot and after reading about the defensive coordinator change and a possible move to a 3-4 defense, he was even more intrigued by the Jackets.

"The defensive coordinator change did not have much of an effect of me. Coach Brian Jean-Mary is my guy, he is still there, and the only other person at Tech I have talked to was head coach Paul Johnson. As long as they are there, I am fine. I know Coach Johnson is trying to make changes to improve the program. If they go to a 3-4 defense that just makes it that much easier to get on the field right away. That is one more linebacker spot and I feel like I could play any of the linebacker positions in a 3-4 so that fits what I do well."

When Parker is not studying college teams or his textbooks, he is busy working out to get ready for college football.

"I am pretty much just working out. I do not think I will be on the track team this year. Usually I do the 4x1, but I do not think I will run that this year. I want to get myself ready so I can make an immediate impact at the next level."

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