February 11, 2009
South Panola standout motivated by pain
His team lost for the first time in his high school career, and his ankle throbbed.
However, in the midst of emotional and physical pain, Nicholas Parker achieved a level of self-confidence he hadn't previously had.
The Batesville (South Panola), Miss., running back has gotten over the sadness he felt when the Tigers lost the state championship game and their 89-game winning streak to Tyler Russell and Meridian last December. His ankle, however, is "not quite healed. I'm a whole lot better though. It hurt badly. I wanted to cry."
Parker, who backed up Ole Miss-bound defensive back Darius Barksdale as a sophomore, rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns last season for South Panola. He did most of his playoff damage with the aforementioned sprained ankle. Nicknamed "Big," Parker still punished opposing defenders despite being limited by the swelling in the joint.
"It gave me a whole lot of confidence to still play the way I did," Parker.
It also cemented his status as an elite prospect in Mississippi. Parker, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, grew up a Texas fan. He hasn't heard from the Longhorns, but Parker has been drawing interest from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, Auburn, Tennessee and others. Mississippi State has offered, and Ole Miss indicated that it was close to joining the Bulldogs during Parker's recent trip to Oxford for the Rebels' Jan. 31 junior day.
It went good," Parker said. "I'd been over there a couple of times. I like the way they coach. They coach like South Panola coaches. They said they're offering me. They didn't really get into detail right now."
As for Mississippi State, Parker said he hasn't "really looked into them yet," though he plans to attend the Bulldogs' junior day on Feb. 28.
Parker said he's in no hurry to make a decision and won't let geography play a role.
"It doesn't matter," Parker said. "I'll go anywhere that's best for me. I want to go to a good football program that likes to run the ball."
Parker said he's hoping not only to re-start the Tigers' winning streak during his senior season but also to improve his skill set.
"I need to work on my lateral speed," Parker said. "Right now, my strength is my O-line and running low."
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