That started in December when he rushed for over 800 yards in the playoffs while leading the Tigers to the State Championship, and it ended this month when he decided to follow a long list of blue chip recruits out of the "U" to Oxford (MS).
South Panola head boss Lance Pogue has coached several big time backs in his
coaching career, most recently Tig Barksdale. But he believes the Rebels are
getting something special in "Big", as they call him in Batesville.
"I think this kid's future is unlimited," added the matter of fact
South Panola head coach. "We are talking about a guy that is going to be
225 to 230 pounds at Ole Miss when he matures. The thing that people do not
realize about Nick Parker is that he has tremendous speed. You see him bang and plow
over people and you think he is just this big power back. And then bam, he goes
80 yards on you the next play. He had an unbelievable amount of long rushing
TD's for us over the last three years. People do not understand that this game
is physical, and when you get into the SEC, you have to be able to not only
take a lick, but give a lick and keep going. That is what you are going to get
in Nick. He breaks tackles and then he gets into your secondary and he takes
it the distance. I still have not seen him caught from behind yet."
Parker broke on the scene as a junior when he took over the tailback duties
from Darius Barksdale. Tig broke the state Class 5A rushing record the year
before with 2, 908 yards while
helping his team to its 4th straight State Championship and earning Mr. Football
in the state of Mississippi.
No problem. Nick just stepped right in and the Tigers never missed a beat. He
rushed for 2, 500 yards and 26 TD's in the 2008 campaign. It was the second
most rushing yards in the history of Class 5A. Parker, along with Vincent Sanders,
were the only juniors in the state of Mississippi that were selected to 1st
Team All-State squad for all classifications.
Parker entered his senior season with high expectations, but a leg injury occurred
during two a days that slowed him up for the first half of the season. But once
the injury healed and Nick got more comfortable with the injury, from a mental
and physical aspect, he exploded during the "money" season as he rushed
for over 800 yards during the playoff stretch and ended the season with 1, 679
rushing yards and 22 TD's. And most importantly, he helped the Tigers to its
third state championship title during his four year stay at South Panola.
Coach Pogue had a hard time comparing him to any one certain tailback on the
next level, but he knows his style is tailor-made for the SEC.
"He has a unique running style. I always thought of Nick as a one cut runner
and down hill runner. He is not going to do all of this juke and jiving. When
he adds some more strength and bulk to him at Ole Miss, running down hill like
he does, he is going to be a load to handle. He is more of what the SEC is going
to now, a one cut runner, and then get into your secondary. These players are
just so fast now in the SEC. Your Dexter McCluster's are just unique in their
own sense too. There just are not too many who can do that. The SEC has gone
to backs who go North/South like the pro backs do. That is exactly Nick's style
so I think he fits that league to a tee."
What attracted Nick to Ole Miss?
"They are just having a lot of success over there. He is a running back
too, and he knows Coach Nutt is going to want to run the football and usually
features his tailback. Nick realizes there are going to be a lot of opportunities
to run the football at Ole Miss. You also have to look at the proximity and
Tig (Barskdale) being over there. He also has a close relationship with his
grandmother and Oxford is only 15 minutes down the road so he can go back and
forth and check up on her when ever he needs to. That is another thing that
people do not know about Nick. He is even a better person than he is a football
player. He is just a special kid. But I think all of those factors combined
made the difference for him. Nick just thought Ole Miss was the best fit for
Who else was involved in his recruitment?
"He had scholarship offers from LSU, Tennessee, USM, MSU, and Tennessee
but I think the Vols and Southern were the schools he was looking at the hardest
outside of Ole Miss."
South Panola is trying to get away from its reputation as a school that yearly
churns out blue chips prospects but has a hard time getting them qualified.
Coach Pogue has had a big hand in the academic turnaround for the Tiger program.
"We fully expect Nick to qualify. You know, we had a black eye on this
program when I got here for not having our players qualify. I think we have
gone a long ways to change that here. I am proud of what we have done here .
The perception and culture has totally changed around here. We have a great
plan in place for these kids now, and we get them started on it early enough
where they are not scrambling around to qualify. This program had a lot of issues
with that, but like I said, the culture has totally changed around here, and
I am just proud to be a part of it."
Yancy Porter is the Recruiting Manager for the State of Mississippi and he
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org