Excuse me sir, would you like some syrup with those pancake blocks? Maple or Aggie-Berry?
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
CELEBRATION BOWL PODCAST: HERO Sports Talks to Four HBCU Stars[divider]
Parker — nicknamed 'Megatron' by his quarterback Lamar Raynard — has been flawless in college, and the NFL scouts have taken notice. Even at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, this blindside tackle is athletic, has the wingspan of an angry raptor, and couples those physical attributes with born leadership skills and a mind that has tackled an electrical engineering degree. He is the total package and that's why NFL scouts are salivating. NFLDraftScout — the entity HERO Sports uses to gauge FCS prospects — has Parker listed as a 5th or 6th round draft pick, the No. 12 offensive tackle prospect.
CELEBRATION BOWL: Two Great Teams, Two great QBs
Oh, and he is rapidly 'trending upwards' — as draft gurus like to put it. That's one reason for his invite and acceptance to the Senior Bowl — considered the top postseason all-star game these days. And like many elite FCS prospects, he's bound to 'trend upwards' even more in the final six months before the draft. Just watch.
But before all of that — and he admits he'll be pivoting to focus on the draft immediately following this weekend — he has one last collegiate task. He wants to help push the Aggies to their second HBCU National Championship in his time at North Carolina A&T. He won one as a sophomore, too. He's looking forward to the Celebration Bowl matchup with the other storied program in the game — Grambling State. The Aggies want to finish undefeated for only the third time in school history, and the first time since World War II.
"It's just the atmosphere of it," Parker told HERO Sports earlier this week, when asked about the Celebration Bowl. "It's nice to be on that scale on national television. It's a blessing, and it's always nice to play in front of a crowd that size … I like (Grambling's) effort. They play hard and you can tell they're well coached. As funny as it sounds, I like their defense. There's a lot of movement and they're not afraid to get after it."
When his college career ends Saturday, he will almost immediately jump on a plane and visit several potential locations to train for the NFL Combine. Being a legitimate professional prospect is a job until itself. The Combine begins in late February and wraps in early March, and aside from the one week in Mobile (Ala.) for the Senior Bowl, Parker will be waking up at the same time each morning, sipping on odd, green-tinted smoothies that taste like cabbage juice with a sprig of parsley added for flavor (ok, maybe it's not that tasty). This is all while working to improve speed, agility, leaping ability — you name it. It's the meat-market aspect of preparing for the NFL Draft. It seems a bit impersonal, but there's always that "you could be set for life if you do this correctly" thing hanging over your head.
Parker will be ready. He's come a long way. He said things have truly ramped up over the past year, and more and more NFL scouts have been showing up at practices, something that began when former teammate Tarik Cohen was seeing his stock rise with pro scouts last year. Parker thinks that helped him immensely, and gives credit to Cohen for it … and he also reflects on where he was standing back in 2013, when he was transitioning from high school to college.
"I really wasn't highly sought after coming out of high school, because of my frame, and I didn't have really good film my junior year," Parker said. "My senior year, I didn't really get any kind of accolades. You had to come to my school (A.L. Brown in Kannapolis, N.C.) to know anything about me. I was a much slimmer guy, if you can believe that now that I'm 6-foot-7 and the massive guy I am now. With schools like Alabama and Clemson, they're looking for the guy who is ready to go right now."
N.C. A&T's Brandon Parker (70) with his teammates — including current Chicago Bear Tarik Cohen (center).[/credit]
Parker's quarterback, Raynard — a pro prospect for 2019 who is also trending upwards — couldn't stop heaping the praise on his stud lineman. They both watched last year as teammate and good buddy Cohen ascended from North Carolina A&T to the Chicago Bears and the NFL, and they both know their own determination could land them in the same place.
"He's a great guy," Raynard told HERO Sports this week. "He's on my blindside and I really just know that every single time that I drop back, he's going to get the job done. He hasn't allowed a sack in all his years starting. That's one big thing about him right there. He controls the offensive line and he's a great leader for them. He's a very hard worker."
This weekend, they'll play together for the final time — Parker, Raynard, Parker's fellow brothers on the O-line. Then they'll move forward, and Parker will continue to help set the bar higher for North Carolina A&T, which continues to turn out determined young men.[divider]