As Kyle Parker prepared for his final game in Death Valley, he and his parents spent several hours with TheClemsonInsider.com to share their thoughts on their experience at Clemson. Over the next nine days TCI will bring you over 80 minutes of video interviews with this special family. Kyle, his father Carl and his mother take us behind the scenes as they look back at their time at Clemson.
In the first of a nine part series Kyle and his father Carl look back at the decision to come to Clemson.
You committed to Clemson fairly early, but then you had a lot of teams coming after you late. Who are some of the teams that were calling dad and calling the coaches saying we just want to talk to Kyle and see if we can get him on a visit?
Kyle: “I had been committed to Clemson since right after my junior year. I had been offered by them for a long time so it was kind of a set decision and I really felt right about it. I really felt like I should be here so it was really easy. Looking back on it there were a lot of team. I know Ole Miss was trying to get me to come over there. They didn’t really have a quarterback coming in and they wanted me to come take a visit. Schools like that but I kind of felt like Clemson was the place for me and I didn’t really second guess myself too much. “
Carl you were involved in these processes with Kyle and you had the background playing in the NFL and college. What kind of advice were you giving Kyle in those days?
Carl: “I think the biggest thing is we talked to KP about commitment. If he made a commitment really your whole recruiting process is over. At that point in time we were going to get through the recruiting process and we weren’t going to continue to scout ourselves around. I just told him to make sure you fit and make sure it is a place that you belong. I have to commend Kyle more than anything. Cathy and I were talking about it on the way up here. He was very confident about a lot of things. He was very confident about the school. He was very confident about the setting and how he fit and how he belonged. Once he made the commitment he was very committed to it and I am not changing. I know I was coaching high school ball at the time. We had Xavier Brewer and we had a tight end Andrew Parker who is at Wake Forest. We had a lot of guys coming to our school. I remember Nick Saban coming to see Brewer and to talk to him. Our coaches said look Saban just wants to talk to Kyle and I was like you know we are really done with the process. The process is finished and I don’t want to cloud it. He is very confident with his decision and there is no need saying would a, could a should a and putting some things out there. Ole Miss was the same way. But more than anything Kyle was just very confident in his decision to come here to Clemson.”
How important was baseball in your decision? A lot of people thing you chose Clemson just because of football but you were also going to play baseball on the side. Baseball was a big factor in your decision.
Kyle: “Yeah it was. I think it was more coach Swinney than anything. He was like you can play, you can play. He told the baseball coaches we have a kid here that wants to play baseball. You guys let him play. I don’t know what happened.”
Do you think coach Leggett has been paying Dabo back?
Kyle: “He always says that he owes him because I don’t think they expected me to be any good to tell you the truth, but I showed up and it was a big factor. It was always important to me and they just made it seem like it was going to work and it did.”
Kyle you came in at the same time that Clemson had this All-American Willy Korn who was going to be this all world best quarterback ever. Talk to us about how a lot of prospects would have been scared off by that, but it didn’t phase you at all.
Kyle: “First off Willy was a great guy when he was here and he was a good teammate to a lot of people. I was in Jacksonville, Florida and I didn’t really realize how big the hype was. I was like they have a decent quarterback and I looked everywhere else and they had one quarterback that was good. I just kind of figured if I am going somewhere I am going to have to compete with someone. I came on up and it didn’t really phase me until I got here. Then I was like they really like this kid a lot. It is just part of it and I don’t think it really scared me away at all.”
Talk to us about the summer before your senior year when baseball is really coming on strong. You are playing some catcher. Talk to us about how the baseball interest really went up that summer.
Kyle: “Oh yeah. We were just doing some different things. We knew that I could play baseball at the next level and I always felt that way. I was just trying to get myself out there. We did a lot of different things with football, different camps and people saw me and could see my ability. We just hadn’t done that with baseball. We were like we need to go out and get in these tournaments. I think we did two. We did one and then the next one we did we had scouts from the Braves, a general manager and like three college guys. We were like well maybe we can play baseball. We really didn’t put that much time into it. It was really just getting in front of the right people. I think I played in two or three different wood bat tournaments. One time we were down there and we really wanted to get in front of the Clemson coach. TR was down there and his is one of the best guys I ever had the privilege of playing for here. He was there and saw me play and he was like alright come on and it just allowed us to feel more confident asking to play, especially at the college level.”
Carl you help guide Kyle through these decisions. You had a lot of connections. You were instrumental in getting a lot of those things done that summer. Now that you look back and Kyle is getting ready to go play for the Rockies how important was that summer.
Carl: “I think the whole thing is in perspective to Kyle. In that whole process it really wasn’t about me telling him what to do. It was me listening to him and seeing what do you want to do son. If it is something that you want to do I can help you do it. If we don’t I can find out what to do. I really didn’t have a lot of baseball connections. One of the things that happened is we found an advisor and we said look my thoughts are I think he can play. CJ Stewart who is Kyle’s hitting coach now and one of his good buddies. CJ said send him up to me for a week and I will tell you what I think. We will see if it is worth doing. KP goes up there and he has been there two hours and CJ calls me back. He is like where has this kid been. I am like I am just giving you my thoughts on it and I don’t know a lot about it. There was definitely a lot of satisfaction in saying okay you know what if it is something that he wants to do we are going to put him in places where he has a chance to develop and showcase his skills. We have just been very blessed in a lot of ways like that.”
If you hadn’t gone to Clemson where would you have gone?
Kyle: “I don’t know. I think it would have been very interesting me playing my senior year of baseball and seeing what happened with that. I don’t know what would have happened but honestly I don’t know. I never really put that much thought into anywhere else.”
TheClemsonInsider.com would like to thank Kyle, Cathy and Carl for this unique opportunity and for taking so much time to share so much information with the Clemson fans.