Jarez Parks has one key in mind as he narrows in on his college decision: his mother.
She is the driving force of his recruiting. Ask Parks about his official visit plans, he’ll tell you he has two set for Auburn and Florida in January. As for the dates, that’s a mom question. Parks’ close relationship with his mother, Ebony, will ultimately be a key factor in his decision.
It’s a main reason why Florida and Florida State are contenders (along with North Carolina, Auburn and Alabama) for the 52nd-ranked prospect in the country.
“My mom is one of my friends who is just there when I need her. She’s always been there for me — through thick and thin. She’s been my backbone,” Parks said at the U.S. Army All-America Game. “Not even my backbone but my entire body. She knows me inside and out like no one has ever. Basically, I wouldn’t gotten where I have today without here sacrificing as much as she did.”
So, to the recruitment, something Ebony will play an integral role in throughout the process.
Alabama has been the preconceived leader for most of Parks’ recruitment. He has 67 percent of his 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions to Alabama. The other 33 percent went to Florida who will receive a Jan. 13 official visit. Florida State and North Carolina will also compete for Parks’ services.
Parks took official visits to Alabama and Florida State back-to-back weekends in November.
He will go to Gainesville, Fla., on Jan. 13. Parks takes an official visit to Auburn on Jan. 20. It was originally planned to head to North Carolina, as well, but Parks didn’t specify whether the Tar Heels would in fact receive an OV.
So — with all of Parks’ non-Auburn recruitment condensed — where do the Tigers stand?
Well, ever since he visited the Plains on July 18, Auburn has had a better chance than has been reported.
“At first they shocked me, I wasn’t expecting what I got after I visited. The players are amazing. I spoke with a couple players, mostly Bryon (Cowart). Great dude just the way they interact with recruits and everything,” Parks said. “They did an amazing job. It seems like I could do really well there to be honest.”
That sounds like someone who is eager to arrive at Auburn and see how an official visit will persuade him so close to National Signing Day. If North Carolina doesn’t receive an OV, that will only work in Auburn’s favor. Florida has the stay-at-home dynamic working in its favor, as does Florida State.
Alabama is semi-desperate on the defensive line, but the Crimson Tide have their eyes on other prospects such as LaBryan Ray and Markaviest Bryant. It’ll be crucial to track each program’s interest in Parks compared to other prospects once the contact period begins.
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound weak-side defensive end expects it to be a wild finish up to Signing Day.
“Hopefully I can keep it as calm as possible, but I’m sure it’s going to get pretty hectic after awhile,” Parks said.
But, based on the self-described way the pass rusher approaches his game, Parks shouldn’t have any problem processing the final month of his recruitment.
“Mentally, I attack the game. I just go in as beat myself. I’m not too much worried about the person in front of me. I’m always going to rely on me, regardless if Obama was in front of me. I still have to do what I have to do. I try to use my speed when it comes down to it,” Parks said. “I know I’m not weak either, but mostly I’m a speed guy but I use my power as much as I can as well.”
Calvin Ashley confusion cleared up
Here’s what I know about the Calvin Ashley journey that took place Thursday.
Let’s revert back to the fall when Ashley began to flirt with Maryland after his family moved from Florida to Washington D.C. Ashley met Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank at a Maryland game. Ashley’s quarterback at St. John’s College High is Kasim Hill who is committed to the Terrapins.
During Ashley’s contact period, Auburn and Maryland were the two schools showing Ashley the most love. He made his official visit to Maryland the last contact-period weekend in December. While there, Ashley gravitated toward a potential flip, according to a source close to Ashley. But a home visit with Herb Hand and Scott Fountain to close out the weekend re-affirmed his commitment to Auburn.
Last week, at the Under Armour All-America Game, Ashley plainly stated that he was “very solid, very solid” to Auburn and expressed how much he couldn’t wait to make it back to the Plains for his Jan. 20 official.
On Thursday morning, a report surfaced from 247Sports’ Maryland site that Ashley could be on the verge of a de-commitment and even a flip. It hinted at a possible silent commitment on his Maryland official visit.
This was a strange report in this sense: It didn’t shock me because I’m well aware of Ashley’s strong relationship and appreciation for the Terrapins right now. At the same time, Ashley told me so recently how committed he was to Auburn and his high school teammate Tyree Johnson wanted to visit Auburn badly because of Ashley’s support.
I don’t doubt Ashley began to gravitate toward Maryland. It makes sense. There is a ton of local pressure from a program that has been sneaky successful on the recruiting trail despite a few 5-star misses so far. His parents are much closer to College Park than Auburn — about 13 hours closer. And there is no questions asked: Ashley would step into a starting role for the Terrapins (could potentially for Auburn, too).
But when asked about the rumors, a source close to Ashley said they were unaware of Ashley’s intentions and noted the Tigers remained “high up there either way.”
After this buzz began, Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand — the birthday boy — touched base with Ashley prior to Ashley’s Twitter commitment confirmation. It might seem hard-pressed for Ashley to spurn Auburn now after sending an always-have-been, always-will-be message about his Auburn commitment.
But Maryland isn’t going to give up without a fight. These reports didn’t emerge from nonsense. They were well-placed understandings of the giant confusion that has surrounded the Ashley commitment for months. Don’t count the Terrapins out until Ashley signs.
With that said, Auburn has to like where it’s at. Herb showed such vocal appreciation for Ashley’s re-announcment that it seems there was a significant enough level of communication between the two for public celebration to take place. Plus, the Tigers have the only planned official visit remaining, which happens to take place on Auburn busy weekend.
As much as targets will be a priority, hitting a home run with the only 5-star commit in the 2017 could be priority No. 1.