BROWNWOOD, Texas (KETK) – Shall we say comeback complete for former Whitehouse Wildcat Jake Parker.
Patrick Mahomes’ top target when they were in high school, Parker bounced around a few schools before going to work in the oil fields for almost two years.
In the spring of 2019, he sought an opportunity to return to football and to college, and landed one at Howard Payne.
To say he’s made the most of it, is an understatement.
Parker just wrapped up his second season as a Yellow Jacket, and was the top receiver in the entire country in NCAA Division III this spring.
To add a cherry on top, his good friend, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, Mahomes, was there to see his last game this past Saturday.
Having gotten his feet wet in the fall of 2019, the ASC’s postponement of the 2020 campaign from the Fall to this Spring turned into a blessing for Parker.
“It helped me no doubt cause I mean taking off so much time from football, you know, you’re still, you’re still trying to recreate yourself as a player and get back to where you were physically. So I mean more time just really helped me out,” said Parker.
The result was 39 catches for 754 yards, which led all of division three college football, to go along with six touchdowns in a shortened five-game season. Parker averaged 150 yards receiving per contest.
To top it off, his former quarterback, you know, the one that’s taken the Chiefs two straight Super Bowls, showed up at Howard Payne’s season finale against Belhaven last Saturday along with two of their other childhood friends Coleman Patterson and Brennan McDaniel.
“That’s pretty special for, you know, the best player in the NFL to come down to Brownwood, Texas to watch the division three football game. It just shows a lot of him as a person and I really respect him for doing that. It was special that they came to watch me, which they thought it was my last game, but I still got 10 more now,” Parker explained.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, he has the option to return in the fall for another senior year. And he’s decided to do so as he wants to continue to play while starting grad school.
“For COVID to be, you know, how it was this year. And it’s really became a positive for me actually. And, you know, just gave me a chance to actually get another season. So I just thought, you know, I came back to play football and get my degree, finish strong with the Yellow Jackets. I’m trying to go win a conference championship,” said Parker.
That also means more reps with his new East Texas quarterback, former Sabine star Landon McKinney, who turned out a tremendous freshman campaign. Parker said it’s in part because they had extra time to build their chemistry.
“We got to basically go through a spring ball season just in the fall. So, I mean, we got a lot of practices, a lot of work, uh, putting a lot of time together and uh, in the fall. So once, uh, once the spring started, you know, we were ready to roll,” Parker explained.
As the two helped each other out, McKinney completed almost 60 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns. He also rushed for 172 yards and four more scores.
“We’re built different. So, I mean, it was nice to have a fellow guy from East Texas playing with me. And you know, us guys from East Texas, we play hard and we show that toughness each and every day. And, you know, he sits there in the pocket and takes some shots that not a lot of guys would always take. I’m proud of him, and he had a hell of a season,” said Parker.
What could be even more impressive for this duo, is that they welcomed a new head football coach at Howard Payne in Jason Bachtel four weeks before their first game this spring.
“It wasn’t as complicated as I thought it was going to be. And, you know, Coach Bachtel me and him really built a strong bond. You know, this spring season and probably the first week he was there just watching me practice and, playing every practice like it’s a game basically. So that when I go into the game, it’s just something normal. I think I earned my respect from him then,” Parker explained.
Parker maintains professional football aspirations.
He hopes he can improve his game enough to ultimately have a shot at some form of pro ball.
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