Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pulled in Two Directions; Bartram Trail Grad Kyle Parker Might Have a Tough Decision after This Week's Draft

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pulled in Two Directions; Bartram Trail Grad Kyle Parker Might Have a Tough Decision after This Week's Draft

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN BARNEY

Kyle Parker knows that people want to know. The Clemson dual-sport star has been answering the same question for more than a year.

Will it be football in college, baseball in the majors or another year of playing both sports with the Tigers?

"The way I look at it, no matter which way I go, it's all going to be good things," said Parker, a 6-foot, 205-pound Bartram Trail High School graduate. "Just crazy how it worked out. I've been blessed with the opportunity to do both. I'll just go with it and see where it goes."

Parker is expected to be a high selection in this week's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which begins today with the first 50 picks. The power-hitting outfielder's draft prospects are pegged roughly the same by multiple publications - Baseball America has Parker ranked as the draft's 37th-best prospect; MLB.com lists Parker as the 50th-best available player.

Based on financial numbers from last year's draft, that means a signing bonus in excess of $1 million could await Parker.

Then there's the other side of the dilemma.

Parker, 20, will be entering his redshirt sophomore season as the starting quarterback for the Tigers. He led Clemson to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game last year and set the Tigers' freshman record for touchdown passes and passing yards.

While his baseball eligibility will expire after next season - Parker is a true junior in that sport - he has three years of football eligibility remaining. That gives Parker, the only baseball-football athlete in Division I history to throw for 20 touchdowns and hit 15 home runs in the same academic year, a luxury not many players have: bargaining power.

"It's really kind of a complicated situation ... we've looked at [former] players, and no one has ever had as much leverage, and more to walk away from, than I do," said Parker, who has 45 career home runs and a .304 batting average. "What a team offers me, it doesn't matter where I go. What I'm asking for is more important."

What Parker is asking for is incentive to give up college football - and the possibility of being selected in the 2013 NFL Draft - to narrow his focus to one sport.

"He's only done it half the year for three years now, what if he devoted all his time to it?" said Kyle's father Carl, who has done most of the baseball networking with Clemson still playing in the NCAA regionals. "He's only going to get better with time. He's not even 21 years old yet. From June to January, he didn't even pick up a baseball bat."

Parker, who played as a high school freshman at Trinity Christian before transferring to Bartram Trail, said he could've been drafted following his senior year in high school. But Parker graduated early and didn't stick around for his senior season of baseball at Bartram Trail. The whole time, baseball was Parker's secondary sport.

But by the time Parker wrapped up his freshman season in college on the diamond - he hit .303 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI - there were questions on if he would bother to wait around on football. Clemson's quarterback situation had become a little more murky because the Tigers had signed Willy Korn out of Byrnes High School in South Carolina, and Korn was the popular pick to win the starting job. But between playing baseball games and being ferried over to spring football practice by a golf cart, Parker was impressing his coaches enough to be named the football starter by the time drills began last fall. His season that followed included 2,526 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and a victory over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl. …

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