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Better Know a Freshman: Ray Parker

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Where will this big athlete wind up?

LSU

Back in the Les Miles days, a number of tight ends brought in were never really used much as receivers, focusing more on their blocking to help that I-formation running attack used constantly. Now, the way offenses have changed over the years and the hiring of Joe Brady have pushed the tight end position to the opposite end of the spectrum, even turning wide receiver Stephen Sullivan into a tight end. We thought the tight end/tackle hybrid was long gone, but Ray Parker has brought the dilemma right back to the LSU doorstep.

The Story

Despite being a top offensive tackle in the nation, things were quite slow for Parker and for a couple of reasons. First was the thing LSU is still facing: teams penciled him in as a tackle, while Parker wanted to stay as a tight end, despite his then-270 pound frame. Second, his grades were somewhat of a concern, giving teams more of a pause in pursuing Parker to add him to their class. The grades improved, LSU pressed and received his commitment in October, figuring they would find his true position once he got on campus.

The Numbers

110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has “can’t miss” talent.

100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.

97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.

89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.

79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.

247 Composite Rating: ****

247 Composite Ranking: .9341

Parker didn’t budge too much from his final ranking at 154. After a strong junior season, he was shifted up to 135, and stayed in that neighborhood throughout his final year at Ruston.

The Film

Parker carried his 270 pounds well in high school, towering over his opponents with a slim frame for a player of his size. He shows good speed and athleticism as well, but I just don’t see enough to be a tight end in the SEC. Yes, Parker moves well, but he catches and stays grounded like a smaller lineman. Watching his film makes me feel like Miles is back in control because he comes off as a perfect fit for that style. He has great footwork and finishes his blocks, giving off the appearance he could be a solid offensive tackle if he went the opposite direction he is going in weight.

The Future

If you take a look at the LSU page, Parker is currently sitting at 233 pounds, so it has become apparent which position he is sticking at for now. The hope is dropping over 35 pounds can bring some more athleticism to his game. It will take a redshirt year and possibly another year onto that before we see him on the field, but it could be interesting to see what this end result is. He’s even worked at defensive line in the last week. I think he would have been a solid offensive tackle at around 295-305, but his persistence must have paid off because he is still at his position of choice.

High End: Parker figures out his weight issues — either keeping it off or putting it on, and finds a role somewhere. If the weight loss significantly improves his athleticism he might turn into an all-around tight end.

Low End: He just can’t find that athleticism to split out wide as a tight end in the Joe Brady offense and they experiment with him at other positions.

Realistic: It’s hard to pinpoint where he will wind up. Losing the weight like he did has to help, but the question still becomes can he play the position at elite level in the SEC? I think he’ll be a contributor down the road.