Samie Parker keeps one eye on track, the other on the gridiron
Oregon's Samie Parker has been a standout for the Ducks in track and field this spring. He hopes football scouts take note.
Parker, a senior sprinter, ranks fifth in the country in the 100-meter dash Ñ and tops among moonlighting football players. He ran a legitimate personal best 10.18 seconds at the Pacific-10 Conference meet May 17 and took third in the Pac-10 final in 10.21. He'll try to make nationals by placing among the top five finishers in the 100 at the NCAA Western Regionals this weekend at Stanford University.
Like fellow Duck Jordan Kent, the sensational freshman from Eugene, Parker always has one eye on track and field and one eye on another sport. Parker will be the Ducks' only experienced receiver next season, and he is an NFL prospect.
So reaching track and field All-American for the third time Ñ Parker earned the status twice in 60 meters indoors, including last winter after running a school-record 6.62 seconds Ñ could only improve his pro football stock.
'It's great to have on my rŽsumŽ,' Parker says. 'If I win regionals and go to nationals, it can only help me.'
Parker will also run in the 4x100 relay at regionals along with fellow football player Jason Willis, Matt Scherer and Travis Anderson.
Foremost, he wants to break the 100 school record of 10.11 set by Don Coleman in 1978.
'I really didn't have any goals coming into the year Ñ but just to get my time as low as I could,' he says. 'I have no goals for winning. I look for time, and things will fall into place.'
Parker, a 5-11 speedster who led the Ducks with 49 catches, 724 yards and eight TDs last season, nearly chose to enter the NFL draft early.
'I was pretty close, right on the edge, 50-50,' he says, 'just because the opportunity was there to take care of my family.' He said scouts told him he'd 'probably go in the third or fourth round. Just to be drafted anywhere would be great.
'But I'm trying to set an example for my younger brother and sister and other people around the neighborhood Ñ a rough neighborhood,' adds Parker, who grew up in Long Beach, Calif. 'I'm just saying it's possible to go to school, play football, finish school and then come out.'
The Duck coaches lobbied hard for Parker not to make the jump. He will be their offensive mainstay, with new starters at nearly every skill position.
Parker missed only two spring football practices because of track and field. He starred in the spring game with seven catches for 135 yards, including a pretty 68-yard hookup with quarterback Kellen Clemens.
'It gave me a lot of confidence going into my senior year,' Parker says. 'I am going to have a lot of focus on me.'
Coach Mike Bellotti wants him to be more of an all-around, dependable receiver who doesn't drop the ball.
'I have pretty much everything under control,' Parker says. 'Maybe I need to improve coverage recognition.' Drops, he says, 'are not a real concern.'
Kent, playing for his father, Ernie Kent, sat on the Oregon basketball bench as a redshirt last season. Getting back to real competition this spring has been satisfying. The 6-5 stallion finished fifth in the Pac-10 200 (21.47) and sixth in the Pac-10 100 (10.57).
He set a personal best of 10.46 in the Pac-10 100 prelims. Kent also holds the Oregon best in the long jump, 24 feet, 3/4 inch, although a sore groin limited his participation in the event and did not allow him to match his personal bests (24-5, 25-1 1/4 wind-aided).
Nursing the groin, he'll run only the 200 for sure at regionals and maybe join Scherer, Anderson and Brandon Holliday in the 4x400 relay.
Kent also set a personal best in the 200 when he clocked 21.09 at the Oregon Twilight meet May 3.
'I did more weightlifting than ever before,' he says, explaining his improvement. 'I had a couple aches and pains, but I was able to push through them. I surprised myself with the PR in the 200.'
Kent, from Churchill High, posted four individual wins in the state prep meet last year Ñ taking first in the 100, 200, 400 and long jump. The previous year, he won the state 200, 400 and long jump. But he hasn't waxed nostalgic this May.
'I realize it's time to grow up a little bit,' he says. 'That's in the past, and it's time to move on as far as my athletic career.'