Few teams in college football closed on the recruiting trail in the Class of 2014 as strongly as Oklahoma did. After their Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, the Sooners landed a flurry of commitments, including the top defensive player in the state in ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II.
Our summer series of weekly Q&As with the Big 12's best incoming freshmen continues today with Parker, who was the top-rated defensive signee in the Sooners’ 2014 class.
What was it about Oklahoma that made you want to sign there?
Parker: What made me decide to sign with the Sooners was the way the coaching staff kind of stayed on me. I had a lot of different places that I could have gone, and I thought OU stayed on top of me the most. It just showed how important I was to their system. That’s kind of how I felt. And I was like, that’s the place to go. A&M was a huge favorite for me just like OU was. They both were at the top for me. OU ended up taking it.
What was it that you liked about A&M, and comparing the two, what was it about OU that ultimately gave it the edge?
Parker: I liked A&M. I loved all the coaches. I thought the coaching staff was great. It was really hard to beat, honestly. Once the DB coach had left (Marcel Yates left to become the defensive coordinator at Boise State) that’s kind of when I was just like, I don’t know if I want to go to Texas A&M anymore. That’s when I started saying, I think OU is the best fit for me, especially the way that they stayed on top of me and showed how important I was to them.
Do you think you have a chance to play right away at OU?
Parker: They say I have a great chance of competing for a starting spot. I told them that’s all I can ask for. As long as I have the opportunity to showcase my skills and have a chance of starting over some of the upperclassmen, that’s perfect. I told him even if I don’t start at safety this year, I don’t mind being redshirted. Of course I want to start as a freshman, that’s a goal any freshman wants. But they’re saying they don’t want to redshirt me or anything like that. They just want me to come in and try my best and earn a starting spot.
What have they told you about the role you might have?
Parker: [Coach Mike Stoops] was saying I’d compete for both spots. I know Quentin Hayes was a starter last year, and basically, I mean, he’s probably going to be the starter next year of course. So I’ll just be competing and seeing if I can compete for that next spot, which would be the free safety spot.
What are your thoughts on Mike Stoops?
Parker: I think Mike Stoops is a great coach. The players tell me everything about him. The way he came up to me and spoke to me and basically recruited me was great. I think he’s going to be a great coach for my future, and I think he’s going to lead the Sooners to be a great defense.
For those who haven’t seen you play yet, describe what you bring to the table as a player?
Parker: What I bring to the table is my coverage skills. I feel like I can cover like a corner, but I play safety and I can hit you like a safety or a linebacker. I feel like I can make tackles in the run game and also I can be your one-on-one guy on the edge.
The OU defense had struggled at times the past couple years, but the way they played against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, did that pump you up?
Parker: Oh yeah, definitely. That definitely pumped me up. It was definitely exciting, just because whenever I was watching it -- which kind of sucked because we were at a theme park -- but I was with some of the OU recruits that went to the Semper Fidelis game (in Los Angeles). So there were (four) OU commits already and some that were thinking about committing to OU. And I was one of those people that was thinking about committing to OU. So that game played a huge difference, a huge role in me committing. I could see OU could still play the big game. And of course they beat Alabama, which was a big-time win in my book. I was just like, I think that’s the place I want to go. It fits for me, and I can stay close to my family.