by Mia L. Williams
Special to ncataggies.com
GREENSBORO (October 7, 2017) -- It's never the right time to say goodbye to a 6-foot, 7-inch, 309-pound left tackle who has fought his way into the spotlight. North Carolina A&T Fifth-year senior Brandon Parker was once overlooked by college football teams coming out of A.L. Brown High in Kannapolis, N.C. Now, NFL scouts can’t look away.
Neither can the media. It is not often that linemen receive the same recognition as other offensive players such as, quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs. But Parker has defied the odds in making sure people remember his name. Parker, the reigning two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Offensive Lineman of the Year, has seen himself recognized in places only reserved those who have the ball in their hands constantly.
Parker is on the STATS Walter Payton Award watch list for offensive player of the year. He is also on the Black College Football Hall of Fame watch list for offensive player of the year. From helping his team win the first-ever Celebration Bowl in 2015 to being awarded numerous All-American honors to helping the Aggies start the 2017 season 6-0, there will be no surprises if Parker is one of the first HBCU players to be selected in the 2018 NFL draft.
The accolades are well deserved for a man who has never surrendered a sack and who only has committed five penalties in his career. Already this season, Parker has won four offensive lineman of the week awards from the MEAC. Out of high school, Parker was given three offers from Winston Salem State University, North Carolina Central and N.C. A&T. Five years later, Parker celebrated his last homecoming with a 44-3 victory against the Delaware State Hornets.
“It feels good. It's been a long journey, I've been here five years. It's kind of made me sad that it rained and seeing the stands clear out before the game ended, but it feels good,” said Parker who has never experienced a homecoming loss.
Parker is not just a great football player, he is also an outstanding student. Between balancing an electrical engineer major with trying to lead the Aggies to their second Celebration Bowl appearance in three years, Parker is one busy man. Parker said being an engineering student keeps him grounded. The demands of the major and football allows him to stay on top of things, the All-MEAC tackle stated.
“(Brandon) still has a lot of football left. He's been a great football player on the field and a great player to have. He's somebody very few people wanted,” said N.C. A&T head coach Rod Broadway. “He's an outstanding person and outstanding player. Brandon's an NFL guy.”
Parker attributes much of his success to his family, friends, and schools that did not see his potential. He grew up in a dedicated sports family. Both his mother (Regina Parker) and his father (George Curtis Parker III) participated in athletics at the University of North Carolina. His sister Jasmine played women’s basketball at N.C. A&T. His athletic family keeps him inspired, the fact he was overlooked keeps him focused.
“It humbled me and made me think maybe I'm not as good as I thought I was, and on the other hand it made me work harder,” said Parker. “I was like, ‘they don't want me? Cool.’ That's what's made me work as hard as I have to be the best.”
Parker admits playing for the Carolina Panthers who play their home games in Charlotte, a 30-minute drive from his home in Kannapolis, would be convenient. But he is willing to go to any NFL team where they are paying.
He wants no NFL team to overlook him like so many college programs did.