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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Senior safety Will Parks guides young secondary

Tyler+Baker+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ADuring+the+second+half+of+Arizonas+28-26+loss+to+USC+at+Arizona+Stadium+on+October+11th.
Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat During the second half of Arizona’s 28-26 loss to USC at Arizona Stadium on October 11th.

Will Parks heard a familiar voice yelling from outside as he walked to the front door of his home. 

“Yo, what’s up bro?” the voice called out to Parks. 

A wave of confusion jolted through the Arizona safety. The guest outside wasn’t supposed to arrive for at least a few more days, maybe even a week. 

So what was he doing knocking on Parks’ door right then? Didn’t he know that Parks was occupied with fall practice for Arizona football

“What are you doing here, bro?” Parks replied. 

In walked Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. 

The former Arizona basketball star, now Brooklyn Nets rookie, had arrived in Tucson a couple days early to get in extra workouts. Naturally, Parks was one of the first people he wanted to visit was Parks. 

The two are practically brothers. 

Parks and Hollis-Jefferson both hail from Pennsylvania, but both made names for themselves across the country at the UA–Hollis-Jefferson on the hardwood and Parks on the gridiron. 

“We’re like family,” Parks said. “I talk to his mom, he talks to my mom sometimes. Even when he’s home [in Philadelphia], he goes to see my mom.”

Hollis-Jefferson has now mostly moved on from Arizona after a prolific two-year career that ended in a pair of Elite Eight trips. 

Parks, a senior, would like to finish his Wildcat career playing in an equally significant postseason matchup. Maybe even the Rose Bowl. 

“It would be a blessing from upstairs,” Parks said. “That’s definitely one of the goals that we set high. We’ve got high expectations, so as long as we keep that in mind, I think we should be pretty good as far as getting to the postseason.”

Having been a part of head coach Rich Rodriguez’s first three seasons at Arizona, Parks is well aware of how difficult it is to reach such a goal.

Guys have to buy in, stay healthy and remain focused all year long. 

As a senior, Parks now carries the responsibility of ensuring that the younger players stick to the system, and there are quite a lot of newcomers playing along Parks in the secondary. 

“I know how it feels to be a freshman and to come in not know what’s going on,” Parks said. “But of course in the last month, the guys have picked up pretty good.”

Parks named Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Sammy Morrison as young players in the secondary who have impressed in the weeks leading up to the first game. 

He also offered words of praise for sophomore cornerback Cam Denson, who will likely be lined up parallel to Parks on defense come Thursday. 

“He’s picked up pretty good,” Parks said. “He’s doing a good job as far as developing the plays faster and jumping to quick routes.”

As for Parks himself, the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list member said that he was in Tucson nearly the entire summer working to add balance to his game. 

Parks is expected to be a do-everything safety for the Wildcats this season, whether that means sticking with coverage or rushing to the line to make tackles.  

“This offseason, I was focusing on my technique more than anything,” he said. “I was trying to get faster hash to hash, diagnosing the plays faster. To be a great player, you’ve gotta do all those things.”


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