The best high school running back in Los Angeles this season has a plan for the future.
The plan has nothing to do with Heisman Trophies, 1,000-yard seasons, bowl games or TV.
This plan is about vision, giving back, reaching out to families in his South-Central Los Angeles neighborhood. The architect of the plan wants to major in psychology in college, with dreams of becoming a child psychologist and starting his own practice . . . not in Beverly Hills or Newport Beach, but back home.
Sound too good to be true?
Meet Sirr Parker of Los Angeles Locke High, Mr. Too Good to Be True.
"I know I'll come back to my neighborhood someday," said the soft-spoken Parker. "I'd like to do something to help people. It's important not to forget where you came from."
Parker has maintained a 3.7 grade-point average at Locke in mostly advanced-placement classes. This semester, his course load includes calculus, economics, government and English literature. He is sports editor and editor-in-chief of the Locke school newspaper.
Parker retook the Scholastic Aptitude Test Oct. 8, hoping to improve his score of 690 by at least 10 points in order to gain freshman eligibility next year.
What has college coaches most excited about Parker is his combination of speed (he's been clocked in 10.49 seconds for 100 meters), acceleration and surprising strength, making him a threat inside and outside. He's a sturdy 5 feet 10 and 180 pounds, and one of the strongest players on the team, bench-pressing 255 pounds.
Friday afternoon at Locke, in his first carry of the game--with coaches from UCLA, Arizona State and Washington State watching intently from the sidelines--Parker burst through the line, bounced off a would-be tackler, shot to the outside and outran Jefferson defenders for a 65-yard touchdown. He finished with 149 yards, increasing his season total to almost 700, even more impressive considering his team has a 2-4 record.
"His acceleration, the way he kicks it into second gear, is what sets him apart from other backs," said one college coach after his touchdown. "He reminds you of (Washington tailback) Napolean Kaufman."
For Parker, that's the ultimate compliment. He idolizes Kaufman, even wearing his No. 8, a fact not lost on Washington assistant coach Ron Milus, who told Parker if he signs with the Huskies, he would inherit Kaufman's number and play a lot as a true freshman.
Parker talked to Kaufman briefly when Washington visited the Coliseum to play USC earlier this season. He is planning to take recruiting trips to Washington, Arizona and Notre Dame, and will decide on two others from among UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Washington State, California, Colorado, Nebraska and Texas.
Notre Dame assistant coach Mike Trgovac would like Parker to visit South Bend, Ind., Dec. 2-4, the same weekend as the Irish football banquet, when Notre Dame traditionally plays host to its most prized recruits.
And last week, Stanford assistant Mike Wilson dropped by Locke and left his card with Parker.
Parker turned heads with his play at wide receiver last summer during UCLA's one-day camp for high school seniors. UCLA Coach Terry Donahue was so impressed, he pulled Parker aside and offered him a scholarship on the spot.
Another running back who flashed big-time college form last week was Dahrin Footman of Esperanza. The 5-8, 185-pound senior ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns to help the Aztecs to a 26-16 Sunset League victory over Edison at Orange Coast College.
Footman is being heavily recruited, as are teammates Kareem Clark (5-9, 170), a cornerback, and Anton Hector (6-1, 180), a safety. The trio also make up three-fourths of Esperanza's 400-meter relay team. In addition, Footman competes in the 100- (10.94 seconds) and 200-meter sprints; Clark was the Empire League long jump champion last spring with a leap of 22 feet. Hector is a standout hurdler.
Footman, who scored close to 1,000 on his SAT, is setting up a recruiting visit to Colorado. He has a strong interest in Cal, and also likes UCLA, Arizona State, Nebraska and Fresno State.
Clark, who admits to being a UCLA fan, has trips planned to Arizona State (Dec. 9-11), Colorado, Michigan State and Fresno State. He is also being recruited by UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Nebraska, Texas and Colorado State.
Hector is being pursued by UCLA, Colorado, Texas, Nevada Las Vegas and Fresno State. He is the cousin of former Texas A&M and New York Jets running back Johnny Hector.
One of the most versatile prospects in Southern California this year is running back-wide receiver-safety J.R. Redmond (6-1, 190) of Carson High. Redmond, a physical player with good instincts, will probably play defensive back in college--or "whatever gets me on the field," he said. He has narrowed his list of schools to USC, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Michigan and Colorado. Redmond has family ties at USC, where senior linebacker Donn Cunnigan is a cousin.