by Aaron Reiss
Eagle Editorial Board
Parker White lost something.
The senior defensive end was at home when he got off phone with a football coach from Stephen F. Austin University. Another player had accepted the team’s last athletic scholarship; White no longer had an offer from the Lumberjacks.
Two minutes later, things looked up. White got another phone call, this time from a coach at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He was offering White an athletic scholarship.
Immediately, White committed to play for the Redhawks.
It was probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had,” White said. “I finally realized I was playing Division One football, which has been a dream [of mine] my entire life.”
And on Wednesday, Feb. 6, college football’s National Signing Day, after years of questioning himself and pursuing a dream that seemed unlikely, White signed a national Letter of Intent, turning his dream into a reality.
White started playing football in second grade, on the Bellaire Bears of the Fun Football League. At Pershing Middle School, White played quarterback. He found little success with football at the time, even while holding onto the dream of playing in college.
“In my eighth grade year I never got [to play] a single snap,” White said. “It’s crazy to think about [how] then I was just hoping to get a spot on the team, and now I’m [going to play] for a Division One college.”
Things did not get much better for White when he got to high school. While he was one of just seven sophomores placed on the varsity football roster, he hardly played.
At 6-3, 180 lbs, White was an undersized offensive lineman. His size was more fit for just about any other position on the field.
I remember just thinking, I was hoping to get playing time,” White said. “[I was] thinking, ‘will I even get to start my senior year?’”
Senior Jack Reidy was one of the sophomores on varsity with White that season. While Reidy earned all-district at defensive tackle, White toiled on the bench.
“His confidence was probably low at the time, but I think it only fed into his determination to eat more, put on more muscle and lift more,” Reidy said. “He was a 180 pound sophomore playing offensive line, and he knew that he [could] be better than that, and he proved that to himself.”
According to head coach Tim Fitzpatrick, the Eagles’ defensive coordinator at the time, White was on varsity at the time not because of his skill set, but because of his potential and the circumstances of the team.
“He played on the varsity by necessity, because we didn’t have anyone else,” Fitzpatrick said. “But we saw that he was very athletic: long arms, good feet; and we targeted him right away to be one of those kids that we could count on and to be a good player and to play at the next level.”
By White’s junior year, things changed. The one-time rail of an offensive lineman had morphed into a varsity starter, moving to the opposite side of the ball as a defensive end, where he earned his first of two consecutive TAPPS all-state selections.
“Nobody could block him,” Fitzpatrick said.
“[Parker] was never complacent,” Reidy said. “He was always working to be the best that he could be, and he achieved that through hard work and determination.”
White grew to 6-4, 215 pounds. He gained weight by eating more and staying on a weight-lifting regimen.
“I’ve gained a lot of weight,” White said. “Part of it’s just natural, part of it’s just spending time in the weight room.”
After his senior season, White’s dream of playing college football seemed realistic.
White had put on more muscle, weighing 230 pounds, while recording over 20 tackles for a loss and tallying 12 sacks.
The Eagle football team posted their best record since 1969 and captured their first district championship since 2005.
“My freshman year we were 2-9 and this year we were 10-2,” White said. “It’s almost a complete about-face turnaround.
“It feels really great to be the class that really made the difference and beat Strake, and had a big winning record.”
White’s play not only affected defensive plays, but the team as a whole. The senior handled himself as a leader.
“[He is] not a rah-rah guy,” Fitzpatrick said. “[He] doesn’t say much.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick, and that’s what he did.”
“He always put in all the work he needed,” Reidy said. “He showed that he cared a lot about [football] and his teammates.”
White garnered interest from a number of colleges, including Army, Air Force, Miami, New Mexico State, Rice, Houston Baptist, Northwestern and Purdue.
After receiving scholarship offers from multiple schools, he chose Miami.
“Right when I stepped foot on campus I felt like this was the place for me,” White said. “It was a great atmosphere. I feel like I really blend in well with the students there; they’re really my kind of people.”
White said he is excited about the next phase of his career.
He still is in disbelief that he is achieving his goal of playing in college, something which just a few years ago seemed like a fantasy.
White admitted there will be challenges ahead. In addition to having to transition into college life, he will have to get used to the pace and talent level of Division One football.
“I’m going to be up against the best players from every high school,” White said, “not just these other private schools in Houston.”
Fitzpatrick has a challenge in front of him, too.
“Now I’m looking for Parker 2.0,” Fitzpatrick said.