By Gray Gardner.
Freshman linebacker Justin Parker has already made himself at home within the Clemson football program. Standing in at 6 feet and 3 inches tall and 227 pounds, Parker is right where he wants to be physically, although he knows there is much more work to be done in preparation for the season.
The Beaufort, South Carolina native is working at outside linebacker in his first set of workouts as a collegiate athlete. Still uncertain whether or not he will avoid a redshirt this fall, Parker said that playing time is not his primary focus.
“Going through camp I’m just going to continue to work hard and see what Coach Steele does, whether I play or not,” Parker said.
One thing is certain – regardless of the circumstances, Parker is ready to work hard and allow the coaching staff to do with him as best suits the team. He echoed the phrase “I’m going to continue to work hard and see what Coach Steele does” several times throughout our interview with him Thursday afternoon.
But Parker is not sitting by idly while he waits for the coaching staff to figure things out. The freshman said he is already getting comfortable with the defensive playbook although he still struggles at times with the base defense, blitzes, and stunts. Fortunately, some of the veteran players have helped him through this process.
“It’s been great, just talking to the defensive players and getting to know the defensive playbook real well,” Parker said. “You know, anytime I have a question about any of the plays I can go to any of the guys and they’ll sit down with me and help me through it.”
Parker said the hardest part of his Clemson experience so far has been taking the knowledge of what to do and making it instinctive on the field, as well as transitioning to the faster game speed.
“I’ve been working on different speed of the game mainly because I know it’s a whole different speed when it comes to the collegiate level,” Parker said.
Parker also said he’s been working on his confidence and just having it in his mind that he can go against the guys on the team.
Overall, Parker said he thought he was prepared for the heavy workload he is receiving from the Clemson staff, but he still knows the importance of continued hard work. Parker again has looked to the defensive veterans for leadership through summer workouts.
“A lot of the upper classmen are working real hard and so I’m going to continue to work hard with them and see what it brings for me,” Parker said.
Along with his natural giftedness at the linebacker position, Parker’s industriousness and humble attitude will take him far in his time at Clemson, something Tiger fans should be excited about.