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Parks steps in as starter with 'gamer' mentality

Nov. 19, 2004

By MATT RICHARDS, sports writer

Redshirt freshman quarterback Terrance Parks is what coaches call a "gamer." These types of players make careers out of finding unconventional ways to contribute to the team.

Parks is one of these players.

He and Texas A&M University junior quarterback Reggie McNeal formed a lethal combination at Lufkin High School in 2001. His 6-foot 4-inch, 244-pound frame with a 4.5 second 40-yard dash gave Parks the tools to be successful tight end and receiver.

The tandem helped Lufkin win a state title with a 15-1 record. But the ability of the elder McNeal always overshadowed Parks.

Except for practices, it wasn't until his senior year that he threw a pass in a game.

parks
Robyn Kenagy | Lariat staff
Redshirt Terrance Parks will the lead the Bears against the No. 2 University of Oklahoma Sooners Saturday.
Parks threw for more than 2,500 yards and an outstanding 19 touchdowns his senior season, good enough to break Lufkin's one-season marks for completions and yards.

It's rare for a player to move from being a productive receiver and tight end to the quarterback position. It's so rare that college coaches know where to play him in college.

When head Coach Guy Morriss came to Baylor two years ago, all he wanted were athletes for a program desperate for athleticism. Although Parks was listed as a quarterback on signing day, Morriss knew Parks would see action other places.

"We need a lot more athleticism in our program," Morriss said in 2003. "We didn't target guys who can play one position. If we did that, we would just have a lot of guys playing back-up until their fifth year."

Listed as a quarterback and wide receiver coming out of the 2003 camp, Parks spent his first year on the bench as a redshirt primarily due to academic issues from his first semester. Although he dressed for all the games, he never played.

It looked like Parks was going to spend his first year of eligibility as third-string quarterback behind sophomore quarterback Shawn Bell and junior transfer Dane King.

But injuries and offensive struggles forced him under center against Texas Tech University and early in the game against Oklahoma State University. Both times, Parks calmly stepped into tough situations and excelled.

"He was very relaxed, and I thought he did some good things throwing the football," offensive coordinator Brent Pease said after the OSU game. "He's a threat, but we haven't thrown with him a lot. He stepped up and threw the ball well."

Morriss said it's a rarity for a third-string quarterback to be getting a start.

In over 40 years of playing and coaching experience in football, Morriss said he's never played on a collegiate team that lost two quarterbacks in one season to injury.

But Morriss isn't the least bit worried about Parks. After watching him the last two weeks, he's looking forward to starting Parks against the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

"I think we're fortunate that we have Terrance," Morriss said. "I'm really anxious to see how Terrance does this weekend."

Parks isn't the least bit intimidated by the Sooners. It fits perfectly into his "gamer" mentality of stepping into tight spots.

"I just look at it as another football team," Parks said. "I'm just going to go out and play my game. They're pretty good. Everybody knows that."

Athletic ability is something Parks has in abundance. For example, during a summer practice, a few players wanted to see how far he could throw a ball from his knees. Parks heaved it 55 yards on the fly. Then, he stood up and thew a football 75 yards standing.

His teammates couldn't believe it.

Later, sophomore wide receiver Trent Shelton made a bet that Parks couldn't throw from one sideline to another flat-footed. Parks bet him, double or nothing, that he could hit Shelton on the run on the opposite sideline. From sideline to sideline, it's roughly 50 yards.

He hit a sprinting Shelton on the numbers.

"I quit betting him after that," Shelton said.

Morriss and the Bears hope the Sooners make the same kinds of bets on the arm strength, athletic ability and "gamer" mentality of Parks.