Ryan Parker sets high standard for Red Raiders

Ryan Parker sets high standard for Red Raiders

November 13th, 2015 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Baylor's Ryan Parker gains yards against MBA on Oct. 23, 2015 at Baylor.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

There are football coaches who would call Ryan Parker nasty; for that matter, wrestling coaches as well.

"I am not a very nice person on the football field," Parker said. "Even as a kid, on a football field I guess I was mean. I hurt people because I hit hard.

"I never purposely hurt somebody, but contact is part of the game and I love contact. I don't mind getting hit hard in the mouth, because I know I'm going to come back and hit even harder."

For an opposing coach to call him nasty is a compliment akin to calling a left-handed pitcher's slider filthy, although Baylor football coach Phil Massey shied away from the initial adjective.

Baylor School's Ryan Parker (15) celebrates a touchdown over McCallie School during the first half of play at the Red Raider's home field on Oct. 2, 2015.

Baylor School's Ryan Parker (15) celebrates a touchdown...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Chattanooga area top 10 high school football poll.

Chattanooga area top 10 high school football poll.

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder, very aggressively," Massey responded. "He plays as though he wants to prove himself on every snap."

The Division II-AA East/Middle Region defensive player of the year in 2014, the 6-foot, 220-pounder will get at least one more chance to prove himself when the Red Raiders play tonight at Memphis University School.

Yet there's really nothing for this stellar athlete to prove. He's an accomplished lacrosse player, already a three-time state champion in wrestling and a state champion discus thrower for the Red Raiders track and field team. He is one of an elite group of Baylor athletes who has proven himself on multiple athletic fronts as well as in the classroom.

"I don't give myself any titles, but that's a group in which I would want to be included," the linebacker and fullback said.

He's accepted an academic scholarship with an invitation to start his college football career as a preferred walk-on at the University of Notre Dame. He had numerous wrestling offers, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Virginia, Cornell, Army, North Carolina State, Princeton and Old Dominion.

It is football, though, that consumes him, and he continues to thrive on competition.

"He has proven to everyone in our league how good he is," Massey said. "Brentwood Academy has three linemen committed to SEC schools and a former NFL player that's the offensive line coach. I promise they were scheming every way they could to keep Ryan from disrupting the offense. I think he had 19 tackles that game."

He leads all of Division II-AA with 111 tackles, but his mainstay contributions are only part of the 2015 Parker legend.

"He's a complete football player. That's all you can say," Massey said. "Most people know him as a linebacker, but what he's done for us offensively as a runner and as a blocker has made a difference and put us in the position we're in right now."

Parker is averaging 7.8 yards per carry while also plowing the road for quarterback Wil Austin, who averages 6 yards per rush. Parker also has blocked two kicks.

"His presence and levels of intensity and focus raise those of his teammates," Massey said.

Baylor assistant Eric Westmoreland, who was an All-SEC linebacker at Tennessee and went to the NFL, has no doubt that Parker can succeed at the big-time college level.

"He has what it takes, although it depends on him gaining weight, maintaining that weight, learning the system and playing with the intensity he's played with here," Westmoreland said. "It isn't just his intensity that sets him apart but that knack for the ball, being able to take on bigger linemen, get off blocks and make plays."

Massey agreed.

"Some people go to camps and they have a clock on them and measure height and weight. You can throw that stuff out the stinking window, because he's a football player," Massey said.

"I tell our kids that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. He hasn't done it just once but over and over," he said.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.