- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
"Coach's take" is a series that offers readers a closer look at the incoming recruits in Texas A&M's 2013 class by visiting with someone who coached the player or coached against him. Today, we take a look at Manvel (Texas) High School receiver Kyrion Parker by visiting with his head coach, Kirk Martin.
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound Parker is a three-star prospect who is ranked as the No. 96 receiver in country. Parker was an Offense-Defense All-American and a first-team all-district selection for the Mavericks. This season, he helped the Mavericks to an 11-2 record, a district championship and a third-round playoff appearance.
Parker caught 46 passes for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Here's Martin's take on Parker:
GigEmNation: What was your first impression of Parker when he entered your program?
Kirk Martin: "We plugged him in at receiver right away and he became a really polished route-runner. He picked things up quickly. The things I were most impressed about were his hands. I mean golly, he just doesn't drop balls. He would just snatch it out of the air. He's a physical kid. He enjoys contact. He's a great blocker. He's a tall target and one thing he does better than any kid I've ever seen is that he'll be on the top of the route on a vertical route and a guy will be in [step] with him and at the last minute he'll separate from them. It's almost like he'll slow down, make the ball look like it's going to be overthrown and then he'll accelerate to get that separation from the DB. We don't teach that. It's just something that he does on his own that is different and special and really fun to watch.
GEN: What are his biggest strengths?
KM: "His hands, definitely. He's a great route-runner and he's able to battle for the ball. But his best strengths are his hands. He's great at getting the ball and plucking it out of the air. He has soft, soft hands. He won't drop balls and that's a terrific attribute to have."
GEN: What are the areas he needs work in as he transitions to the college level?
KM: "He's going to face guys that are stronger than what he's used to seeing and he won't be able to just manhandle them, so he'll need to get stronger to play in the SEC. I think he can. He's not far away. He's a big, physical kid. He's good in his upper body but he has some work to do in his lower body. I think that'll help him be more explosive. They're going to press him. ... The thing I want him to do is get strong in his lower body."
GEN: How do you see him fitting into Texas A&M's offense?
KM: "I see him being a bookend to [Mike] Evans. Is Evans is the 'Z' then I see Kyrion as being the 'X.' If Evans is 'X' then Kyrion would be the 'Z.' I really see him being a great complement to Evans. I'm not on that staff but I've seen the kids they have and they have some really explosive kids that can play inside.
GEN: What will be your lasting memory of him as a player?
KM: "It would be in the spring when he came into the program, battling with [cornerback] Tavares [Garner] every day. We had thousands of college coaches coming by in the spring and watching those two guys go at it. It was fun. Watching Kyrion's physicalness with Tavares. He made Tavares a lot better. He never saw anybody as good as Kyrion. One day, Tavares had him blanketed and Kyrion came down with the ball and Tavares just kind of shook his head and said, 'I don't know what else to do or what I could have done. That kid can just flat-out play.' I'll miss their battles because they're going to take their show on the road at the same place and that's going to be fun."