Tigers give Parker something to think about

01/13/2010 12:00 AM

01/13/2010 8:00 AM

Beaufort High linebacker Justin Parker has emerged as one of the nation's top recruiting prospects. As Parker approaches his decision, the senior agreed to give readers a glimpse into the process with a diary every Wednesday, as told to Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet sports reporter Brandon Parker.

This past weekend I took my official visit to Clemson and I really enjoyed it. I loved the atmosphere because it's like one big family and I've never really seen anything like that. You can tell that (Clemson) coach (Dabo) Swinney treats the players as if they are his own kids.

On Friday night, I hung out with all the other recruits who were on the visit and I got a chance to meet up with (Clemson safety) DeAndre McDaniel and (Clemson linebacker) Brandon Maye, who are really cool guys.

On Saturday, they gave us a tour of the campus and the academic buildings. We got to talk to some of the professors before going to the coaches' hall and eating lunch.

But the thing that really got me that day was when we went to the locker room and they had Clemson jerseys for us to put on with our high school numbers. Then, we pretty much went through the pre-game routine that the real team goes through every Saturday. We took the bus ride around the stadium, then we touched the rock before running down the hill and onto the field. I actually caught some chills when we went through all of that because it was just such a great feeling to be in that atmosphere.

After that, we went to the basketball game against Boston College before heading to the football team's banquet. The banquet was real nice and I got a chance to hang out with some of the players afterward and see some more of the town.

On Sunday, we went out to breakfast and then each of the recruits met with coach Swinney for a one-on-one talk. He didn't talk to me much about football but moreso about the academic side of things, which impressed me. He focused on that it's not always about football and how it's just as important for me to get a good education at Clemson.

Another thing that I really liked was talking with Jeff Davis, who used to play linebacker at Clemson and now helps out with the program as a motivational speaker and minister. I only talked to him a few times, but I feel like we've already bonded because he's so real and down to earth. This weekend really got me thinking about Clemson and just from the environment and genuine atmosphere, I got a really good feeling while being there.

About two or three weeks ago, some coaches from Florida contacted me about looking at some of my film. One of them called me (on Monday) and I think they might be about to offer me a scholarship, but it'd be hard to put them in my top two or three since they're coming into the mix so late.

My plan for the next few weeks is to take the SATs again on Jan. 23 and leave after that for my official visit to LSU. Things are still up in the air with Georgia Tech. I might visit there on Jan. 30, but we'll see what happens.

My top five schools (in order): Clemson, South Carolina, LSU, Georgia Tech, Florida.

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