By LARRY VAUGHT
His father, David Parks, was an offensive lineman at the University of Kentucky and he grew up in Lexington where he plays football for Frederick Douglas High School, one of the state’s best teams this year.
Yet when it came time to pick a college, four-star Walker Parks was sold on Clemson early and picked Clemson over a lot of schools, including Kentucky. It was a decision the senior high school lineman says his father supported from the start.
“There was a lot of talk about the hometown hero (and playing at Kentucky). I committed and got that out of the way and some people were upset (he didn’t go to UK) but I was committed before they (UK) really got eyes on me,” Walker Parks said. “My dad couldn’t be happier with where I am going. Same with my family.”
He admits it would have been “cool” to follow in his father’s footsteps in college and understands few athletes have the chance to do that.
“I could have the No. 64 (jersey number) at Kentucky (his dad had) and done the same. If I had done that, I am sure things would have been perfect,” the Frederick Douglas lineman said. “But he said this was my life and I had to make a path for myself. He lived in Georgia and came up here and played. Things worked out pretty good for him.”
The 6-5, 280-pound Parks is ranked 86th on the ESPN top 300 recruit list for 2020 — and has six other Clemson commits ranked ahead of him.
He says Kentucky “didn’t do anything wrong” with his recruitment.
“I had watched Clemson play and thought it was cool team with good guys. Me and my dad went to camp and looked around campus. I thought, ‘I want to play here.’ Went back next year to camp, got offer, committed and that was all she wrote.”
That was about a year ago and Parks says it has been nice not to have to worry about his recruitment this year.
“I was never a fan of coming here every day and getting blown up (by recruiters) and traveling (to schools) and missing time with my friends and family. It has been nice,” he said.
One thing I like about Parks is that in this day where de-commitment has also become the norm, he’s never wavered. I would expect the same when his junior teammate Jager Burton picks which of his big-time offers he wants to accept.
Parks said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made it clear that if he committed to Clemson, he was committed. Of course, not as hard to do that when you have won a national title and have top players waiting for the chance to play for the Tigers.
“Coach Swinney said, ‘When you start dating a girl do you go on dates with another girl’ and I told him no,” Parks said. “Just the loyalty and being man of my word. I gave them a promise I was going there and I am not going back on my promise. That is where I am going.”