Posted: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013
Hometown: Salisbury, NC
High School: West Rowan HS
Year: RS Junior
Kevin Parks is the all-time leading rusher in NC HS history. He rushed for over 10,000 yards in his 4 year career, with 158 TDs. As a senior, he rushed for 3,794 yards and 59 TDs. He finished his HS career on a 30 game winning streak. Those numbers are other-worldly. Parks is simply an ultra-talented RB.
And yet, he was only a 3-star prospect. ESPN ranked him 56th among RBs, Scout ranked him 95th and Rivals ranked him 52nd. If Parks was a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier, he would've been among the top prospects in the country. If he was a little bit faster, he would've been among the top prospects in the country. As it stands, he wasn't any of those things, and his offer list includes the likes of Illinois and ECU as opposed to Alabama and USC. He wasn't even offered by his in-state schools. Oh well, their loss is Virginia's gain. Of the 51 RBs ahead of Parks on Rivals, just 7 have more rushing yards thus far in their careers than Parks, and 3 of those are no longer at their original school.
In his 2 years on the field, Parks has rushed for nearly 1500 yards and 14 TDs, all while splitting time with Perry Jones (and others). Parks has also averaged 4.6 yards per carry, while the team has averaged under 4 (keeping in mind that sacks in CFB count against rushing yards). In 2011, Jones had a higher average than Parks, then a freshman. Last year, Parks was much higher. The Hoos OL struggled mightily last year, and yet Parks still averaged 4.6 ypc. Jones struggled, averaging just 3.4 ypc.
This year, Parks sits atop the depth chart. He will still have to compete for carries with Khalek Shepherd and Tiquan ‘Smoke' Mizzell. Shepherd had just 19 carries last year, but averaged over 6 ypc. His role was as a 3rd down back, and many of his carries came against substitution defenses. In an every down role, Shepherd would be unlikely to maintain that average. Mizzell is much more of an unknown, but he's more similar to Shepherd than to Parks. While both Shepherd and Mizzell are likely to take some carries from Parks, both are more suited (at least at this point) as change-of-pace guys and 3rd down backs. Parks is likely the best between the tackles runner on the team, and should get a majority of the carries.
Assuming Parks does maintain the primary back role, he could put up some big numbers. The Hoos have had just one 1000 yard backs since George Welsh retired (Alvin Pearman in 2004). Largely, that is because they've had multiple talented backs on the team at any given time. This year is no different, but Parks may be the only real every-down back on the roster.
Parks has averaged 156 carries over his first two seasons. As the primary back, he could easily push that up to the 250 range. Obviously, a lot will depend on a revamped OL, as well as an entirely new offensive coaching staff. Of course, if Smoke is as good as advertized, Parks may not get that many carries. If he does, he could very well break that 1000 yard mark.