In 2010, Nokesville (Va.) Kettle Run had a record of 4-6 but dramatically improved in 2011, losing in the semifinals of the Virginia State Playoffs and going 13-1. For Michael Parker simply improving as an individual is not enough.
"Last year I was just trying to get used to the feel of the game," said the 6-foot-3, 205-pound athlete. "Then over the summer I worked hard and it really paid dividends for me this season. I'm not where I want to be or where I thought I'd be. I have got to stay physically and mentally focused on and off the field. Also my quickness and start and stop ability is something I need to work on."
Surely a 13-1 season is not without memorable moments.
"I've loved playing with my teammates. We are a family here," Parker said. "Every Thursday before the game we all have dinner together. The chemistry is great and we all have grown to trust each other. At the beginning of the season nobody in the county believed in us and we banded together and proved everyone wrong."
Parker holds seven offers from Ohio State, Boston College, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State and Maryland, and he's hearing from dozens of other schools.
"Notre Dame has come by the school a few times and I've talked with some of the coaches at Kansas," he said. "Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Oregon have been sending me tons of mail."
Parker talked about his most recent offer.
"Ohio State came through with an offer on January 11th," said Parker. "I called Zach Smith, the Wide Receiver Coach, and they offered me over the phone. They're coming down sometime this month to make it official. I love how big the program is up there and the people are all about their football. I like that it's a big campus, so I can have the college feel. It's the offer I was waiting for."
Some of the other offers that stick out in Parker's mind are Boston College and N.C. State.
"Boston College was my first offer, around March of last year," he said. "Mike Siravo, the Defensive Backs Coach, and I have a pretty good relationship and we see each other a lot. He makes it down here a lot for being so far away.
"Coach Willis, from N.C. State, came up here during the season, which was cool because it's a busy time for them," said Parker. "It shows me how much they like me. He met my parents while he was here. N.C. State and Notre Dame, even though they haven't offered me, are the only two schools looking at me as a wide receiver."
There is at least one additional school Parker is keeping an eye out for.
"I definitely want to see an offer from LSU," he said. "I have such a love for the school. It's tough to talk about but I love the school, the people, the coaches, everything."
Parker outlined some of the things he is looking for in his college choice.
"It needs to be in an area where I feel comfortable," said Parker. "Distance from home really isn't a big deal for me. I would like to go to a school with a good political science program."
Parker has visited Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech, and liked all of them, but one of the three truly stood out.
"Tennessee sticks out the most in my mind because of the state of the art facilities and equipment that's going to help me develop," he said. "I plan on going to Boston College on January 28th, Tennessee on February 14th and Notre Dame in the near future. I think I'm also going to go to Maryland for the Duke basketball game on January 25th."
Parker was unable to go to the U.S. Army National Combine and is trying to decide which of the upcoming combines and camps he will attend.