Beaufort High School linebacker Justin Parker has emerged as one of the nation's top recruiting prospects, earning more than a dozen scholarship offers from Divi-sion I schools and cracking Sporting News Today's list of top 100 football recruits for the 2010 class. As Parker approaches his much-anticipated decision, the senior agreed to give readers a glimpse into the recruiting process with a diary every Wednesday, as told to Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet sports reporter Brandon Parker.
During the past week, I've had a lot of college coaches come visit me at school and at my house, and all of the visits went pretty well.
Last Wednesday, South Carolina assistant coach Shane Beamer came by my school for about an hour and a half. We didn't talk much about recruiting ‹ just different things going on in our lives, family and things like that. He also came by my house (Tuesday) to talk to my mom and family about how the scholarship works and what they want me to do education-wise as an athlete, just in case she had any questions or misunderstandings.
On Thursday, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis stopped by the school. We didn't talk too long -- maybe five minutes -- because I was headed out with Beaufort High football coach Mark Clifford and some other athletes to read books to the kids at Whale Branch Middle School. I'll be seeing Coach Chavis soon though, because I set up an official visit to LSU for the weekend of Jan. 23.
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Then, on Monday, Clemson assistant coaches Dan Brooks and Kevin Steele came by the house to sit down with me, my mom, brother and uncle. The coaches talked about how I would fit into their program and how I could come in as a true freshman and get lots of playing time since they are losing some guys at linebacker. I'll be taking my official visit up to Clemson on the weekend of Jan. 8.
For the most part, the coaches are open about the fact that there's not much more they can say at this point. Of course, everyone will try to sound good in the re-cruiting process and the football teams speak for themselves, but what it comes down to is which people you feel most comfortable around and what education level best fits you. From what I've seen at USC and Clemson, the players get along well and it's a nice atmosphere, so there are those other factors that I have to fall back on in my decision. South Carolina has a really good business school, and Clem-son and the other schools have some good things, too, so we'll see.
In the meantime, I'm just trying to stay strong and healthy for the Shrine Bowl next week and the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl a few weeks after that. I'm looking forward to both being really good experiences.
My top five schools (in order): South Carolina, Clemson, LSU, Georgia Tech, N.C. State.