- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Don’t bother looking for highlight footage of Malkom Parrish playing his future college position. You’re not going to find any.
“He’s not played one down at corner,” Brooks County Coach Maurice Freeman said of Parrish, an ESPN 150 athlete who publicly committed to Georgia on Thursday. “He’s played some safety, but he’s not played one down in an official game at corner. Not one single down.”
Defense is hardly Parrish’s top priority at Brooks County, a Class AA program in Quitman, Ga. Smallish schools like his often feature their best athlete at quarterback -- and that’s exactly what the Trojans do with Parrish.
One game immediately came to Freeman’s mind when recapping the superior athleticism Parrish has displayed while leading his offense. As a freshman leading a 5-5 Brooks County team against undefeated and fifth-ranked Swainsboro in the first round of the 2010 state playoffs, Parrish snuck in for a touchdown on the final play of the game, cutting Swainsboro’s lead to 14-13. That left Freeman with a tough decision.
“I was like, ‘I’m not going into overtime with these guys. It’s their home field and it looks like they’ve got the edge. We’re going to give the ball to our best player and see what happens,’ ” Freeman recalled of his decision to attempt a two-point conversion.
“We lined up in the swinging gate and we’ve got a signal for Malkom to pitch it, throw it or keep it. We just told him, ‘Look, you keep this ball’ and that joker got into the end zone. That’s big time. He bulled himself into that end zone. We could have easily lost that game if he wouldn’t have gotten in, but he was like, ‘Coach, I won’t let you down. I’m in there.’ ”
He’s been making big plays ever since, even when he lined up at a brand-new position in the spring: cornerback. Freeman moved him there to begin sharpening his skills since some college programs envisioned him as a defensive back. And thus far he has made a seamless transition.
“He’s very physical, he’s very raw, he’s young. That’s the great upside,” said Freeman, who added that Parrish could also contribute at safety and return punts if asked. “He’s got the instincts to cover. He’s also a physical kid. He loves to get his nose in there. So you’re going to have taller receivers, but he’s going to give them trouble.”
That was the case last week at the prospect camp on Georgia’s campus. One of the highlights of the weekend was when 5-foot-10 Parrish went up against 6-4 ESPN 150 wideout Cameron Sims, with Sims winning the first two reps and Parrish bouncing back to intercept two passes while covering the highly touted Louisianan.
Once they arrived at the camp, Parrish asked Freeman to seek out the best receiver he could face. The coach asked around, quickly learned that Sims would provide the biggest test and informed Parrish as such.
“The next thing I know, they’re matched up and as fast as I can get there, they’re going at it,” Freeman said. “... It was a physical battle and I was certainly happy about that. It was a great battle.”
The No. 70 overall prospect on the ESPN 150 and No. 8 athlete, Parrish can win more than his share of battles with athletic ability alone. Once Parrish learns what he is doing, Freeman said, he can become a solid college cornerback.
“I think what helps more than anything else is his willingness to learn, listen, get out there and work and just continue to work,” Freeman said. “I think those are the biggest things that will help the kid out.”