Swinney and Parker talk baseball, Kyle's future

by - Senior Writer -
Parker said he loves both sports, and wouldn't know what to do if he had to pick just one

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney can’t turn around without someone asking him if he thinks quarterback Kyle Parker will be under center for Clemson when the 2010 football season kicks off, and Monday night was certainly no exception.

One reporter asked Swinney if he wanted Parker to slow down his torrid home run pace, and Swinney laughed and said he just wants Kyle Parker continue being Kyle Parker.

“I just want him to be the best he can be,” Swinney said.

Swinney said that he understands Parkers’ abilities on the diamond, but he is also amazed at his abilities on the gridiron.

"He is some kind of talent," Swinney said "I've said it many times but I'd be very disappointed if he weren't here in the fall. I think he has tremendous NFL ability. I don't have any doubts he could play on Sunday. Right now, I think he's in a great situation for his future as it continues to play out.”

Swinney said that he has seen a dramatic change in Parker since last spring, and he said it all comes to confidence.

“This year, he is a guy that has played 14 football games,” he said. “There is also not near the pressure on him this spring. Last year, he was trying to learn the offense, and he had a lot on his plate. This year, he has a confidence in everything. He has no Monday-Friday classes, so he has a nice balance there.”

Parker has belted a team-high 10 homers for Jack Leggett’s baseball team, and he also leads the team with a .396 batting average and 24 RBI, but Swinney said he thinks it would take a lot to get Parker to forego his football career.

"Who knows what'll happen and this and that,” Swinney said. “But I think there would have to be a Brinks truck full of money for him to pass up being the starting quarterback at Clemson and walk away from school and baseball. Because this time next year he still has leverage. And me personally - and I know everybody wants to debate it - but I think it would be a crying shame for him not to play quarterback and give the NFL a shot. I really do."

I asked Parker after practice if he had a lean one way or the other, and he said that right now it was all about enjoying his college career in both sports.

“I really have no idea,” Parker said. “I just know that there is a whole lot that goes into making a decision like that, and whatever decision I make, we’ll just have to see what happens. I have no idea right now - I am just enjoying playing ball.”

Parker said that growing up, he didn't play favorites when it came to baseball and football. He just wanted to play ball. Period.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you, because I’ve always seen myself in a football helmet, and I’ve always seen myself throwing a baseball,” he said. “I love doing both, and I’ve never really thought about which one I would pick.”

Parker says that playing two sports actually helps him to relax, because he can leave the mental pressures of one sport and go have fun in the other one.

“I think it is a good thing to play both, because you can just get your mind off of things,” he said.”It does get a little frustrating in football, because I am not 100 percent out there, and trying to get everybody better. But when I am out there, I try to be a leader, and when I leave and go over to baseball, I try to lead over there.”

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