BEAUFORT - After a seven-month struggle where more than a dozen of the top Division I schools competed for his commitment, Beaufort High's Justin Parker signed a letter of intent to play for Clemson on Wednesday.
The linebacker announced his decision before about 50 family members and friends at Beaufort High.
With Clemson, LSU and South Carolina hats resting on the table and his parents at his side, Parker quickly reached for the Clemson hat, only to place it on his father's head. Then, he snagged the USC cap before giving it to his mother. But instead of grabbing the LSU hat that remained, Parker reached under the table and pulled out a black Clemson hat along with a wide grin.
Parker gave his verbal commitment to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney about two weeks ago.
Still, that didn't stop the likes of USC commit Marcus Lattimore from making one last push at the state's top linebacker prospect. Following Lattimore's announcement Tuesday, Parker said the Byrnes tailback texted him "We need you" in hopes of changing Parker's mind.
It was the at-home feeling Parker got during his official and in-home visits with Clemson that steered his decision.
"I just love the family atmosphere that I feel when I visit the school and talk with the coaches," Parker said. "I've always felt it and it really got me to feel at peace with my decision and playing at the next level.
"Now, it's about staying in the weight room, finishing strong in the classroom and getting ready to work hard."
Joining Parker at Clemson will be safety Ricky Chaney from crosstown rival Battery Creek High School. The hybrid safety/linebacker made his verbal commitment official at a news conference Wednesday morning, boosting a recruiting class that is ranked in the top 20 nationally by Rivals.com and ESPN.