Running back Jonathan Parker’s commitment happened very quickly, at least on the public surface.
He visited, he was offered and then he waited a couple of days before sending his signed letter of intent to Iowa the morning of signing day Feb. 6.
Before that, the 5-9, 170-pound running back from Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis was the only running back on TU’s 21-man commitment list.
A few days before making his official visit to TU on Jan. 25, Parker told the Tulsa World that he was “totally committed” to the Golden Hurricane and would not be making any other visits.
“I’ve been solid the whole time,” said Parker, who announced his Tulsa commitment in September. “I didn’t look at any other places.”
Then, Iowa started calling Parker, who had been a Tulsa commit since September. Iowa offered a scholarship sometime in January after Parker’s productive senior season (1,094 yards and 18 touchdowns; 13 catches for 223 yards.)
Parker is a candidate for the running back/slot receiver position that Iowa seems to want to grow or at least have as an option. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz compared Parker’s size to former Iowa RB Fred Russell, but there is one exception.
“And I would argue that, or suggest, I won’t argue, I’d suggest that Jonathan’s got a lot better ball skills,” Ferentz said. “No offense to Fred, but his best thing was running the football.”
And then Ferentz discussed Parker and Akrum Wadley, another smallish, quickish RB/slot type, in comparison to what we perceive about Iowa running back.
This all sounds good to Parker, who switched from a program that finished 2012 with an 11-3 record, Conference USA championship and a victory over Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl to a Big Ten program that finished 4-8 in ’12.
“The biggest factor was that I came to the conclusion wherever you go, you have to be happy and judging off when I went to Tulsa and when I went to Iowa, I felt more comfortable with Iowa,” Parker told HawkeyeReport.com. “And it’s also closer to home. They are going to play me in the slot and at the running back position. I’ll play wherever they need me most.”
Scouting snippet (from St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Parker had a strong senior season as CBC went 11-1. He rushed 162 times for 1,111 yards, an average of 6.9 per carry, and 18 touchdowns. He caught 16 passes for 213 yards.
Parker has seen significant playing time since his sophomore season. He rushed fvor 600 yards as a sophomore and for 982 as a junior.
He’s unsure what position he’ll play at Iowa.
“When we met with Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and Coach (Eric) Johnson, they came down and they were talking about moving him around quite a bit, playing some slot, playing running back, try to move him around to use his speed,” CBC coach Scott Pingel said. “His role is undefined right now with Iowa, but it’s going to be kind of as an athlete.”
Parker isn’t worried about what position he’ll end up playing at Iowa and likes the idea of being used in different ways.
“It’s very appealing,” he said. “I feel like wherever I can make some plays, then that’s what’s going to work. I’m open to anything. I know once I get there and I work hard I’m going to be successful.”
What Iowa said . . .
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “He was a player we had been doing research on for three and a half, four months. It was just coming down to us deciding what we wanted to take, whether we wanted another wide receiver or running back. We ended up offering him about two, two and a half weeks before signing day. We had a little extra time this winter [no bowl] and coach Ferentz did a really good job of having us continue to watch the prospects as a staff. He [Parker] was one of those kids when it came down to it offensively, the offensive staff, when they asked themselves if they wanted to take another wide receiver or running back, it didn’t matter what they said they wanted to take, he was always in the discussion as the top prospect we needed. We ended up saying, it doesn’t matter what position, we want Jonathan Parker and that’s when we ended up offering him.”
He’s a running back right now? “He is a running back. He’s one of those guys we can play at running back, motion him out or just line him up in the slot and use him that way.”
Iowa offered, but Parker still paused. It wasn’t an easy decision. “Tulsa is an excellent program. I think it was hard because of the loyalty they showed him. You develop that relationship and it was hard to say no.”
What Rivals.com said . . .
Parker committed early, so there isn’t a lot of material.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound speedster picked Tulsa over offers from Northern Illinois, Ohio, Ball State and Miami (OH).
“I chose Tulsa because I watched their game and the other schools games, and I felt that was my type of ball club,” Parker explained. “Not only that but I have a great relationship with the coaches, and out of everything, if I’m going to be there for four years, I want it to feel like home and it felt just like home to me. It’s also great in academics.”
Also . . . Parker said his strengths at the running back position are his “speed, agility, vision and defense recognition.”
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
OK, Iowa now has Damon Bullock, Jordan Canzeri and, at least, Parker and Wadley as potential RB/slot players. Is the goal to work flats and soft spots of defenses? There is a ton of space between the inside zone up the middle and the fade down the sideline. They are the counter to the other running backs on Iowa’s roster, mainly Mark Weisman (235), Barkley Hill (215) and Michael Malloy (205). Also, we haven’t gotten to fullback. The last we heard of senior Brad Rogers he was having back surgery. Let’s assume Iowa intends to have a fullback.
How the “space RBs” will work with the “monster truck” RBs remains to be seen. Injuries and execution kept that from happening last season.