Beaufort's Parker drops USC to third on his list

Linebacker not sure Gamecocks will compete for titles in the near future

Spartanburg Herald-JournalJanuary 28, 2010 

If Justin Parker says yes to South Carolina, he honestly believes he can step in and be the next great Gamecocks linebacker.

And that's not just his opinion.

He already has an endorsement from the best linebacker in school history.

"I do see a lot of similarities in the way (myself and Eric Norwood) play," said Parker, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Beaufort. "We are both about speed and getting to the ball and ball carrier. When he told me that I could come take his spot, I felt confident that I could. Knowing myself, I feel like I fit that personality, as far as moving around and being a playmaker."

Parker, a four-star prospect and the No. 7 inside linebacker in the nation, according to ESPN.com, said the Gamecocks are No. 3 on his list of favorite schools.

He lists Clemson as his favorite and LSU second.

He, however, added that all three are about equal at this point, and he plans to meet with the coaches of his top three this week.

Parker plans to announce his college decision at 1 p.m. Wednesday at his high school.

Although the Gamecocks are on Parker's radar, it appears that a little work will need to be done to convince him to come to Columbia.

"USC plays in a tough conference, of course, in the SEC. Honestly though, I don't see them beating all of the teams in the SEC because those are some really tough opponents," Parker said. "When you look at any school, you want to know that they can compete, not only for a conference championship but a national championship, because that's the ultimate goal."

However, he does see potential at USC.

"I see that they are really competitive and don't give up," Parker said. "They stay in it for four quarters strong. They've got a great defense coming up."

Parker added that Norwood said he would be a good fit for the Gamecocks but can't make the decision for him.

"I talked to (Norwood) a few times previously, and he once said he'd love for me to come to USC and take his job," Parker said. "At the same time, he said it's my decision and about what's best for me and where I feel comfortable."

Norwood, an All-American linebacker, is the Gamecocks' all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss.

He also is the only USC player to be named first-team All-SEC three times.

Parker finished this season with 142 tackles with 12 for loss, seven sacks, two interceptions, five forced fumbles, two blocked field goals and two fumble recoveries.

ESPN recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt said Parker will do well at the college level.

"Justin is a big Mike linebacker prospect who plays physical and moves well laterally, which is paramount at the position," he said. "I know college coaches who liked him on film and then liked him even more when they evaluated him in person. I really like his desire to be great, and he has personally handled the recruiting process very well."

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