When Jenks, Okla., safety Steven Parker is backpedaling and tracking a receiver, it's really not that much different than when he's on defense as a guard for the Trojans' basketball team.
"To me, it's exactly the same," Parker said. "In basketball, you're always rotating your hips. That's something that you need as a defensive back, to rotate your hips and slide your feet."
Parker, who also runs track for Jenks, is one of seven defensive starters back for the 6A state champion Trojans, one reason why they're the No. 24 team in the preseason Super 25 high school football rankings. Today, we're releasing the teams No. 21 through 25, with another five teams each week culminating in our complete Super 25 preseason rankings in August.
Parker's father, also Steven Parker, played at Oklahoma State. His grandfather, Charles Parker, was one of a group of five who made history in 1955 by being the first black players to walk on at Oklahoma.
The 6-2, 190-pound senior already has offers from 24 schools. At a lot of high schools, an athlete such as Parker would see plenty of two-way action. But at Jenks, there's enough depth that he will only occasionally be used as an offensive weapon.
"He's a good athlete and could play a lot of places on the field," Jenks assistant coach Carl Johnson said. "We just thought safety was a great position for him. We play a lot of two-high looks with him and Dylan Harding in the back end and we need a safety back there who is big and tall and can cover a lot of ground."
While Jenks went 12-2 and won its 13th state football title and fourth in the past 10 years, the team got off to an 0-2 start last season with losses to DeSoto, Texas, and archrival Union (Tulsa).
"We have a tremendous amount of leadership on our team, with players like Parker who have been starters since they were sophomores," Johnson said. "Even after we lost those two games, they never panicked. All we had to do was take care of business."
Parker said the team grew up as the season went along.
"I don't think we came out cocky," Parker said. "We felt like we could beat any team with our ability, but after we lost those two games, we had some young guys who stepped up throughout the season."
Jenks will again be tested early. The Trojans travel to Texas to play Trinity (Euless) on Sept. 7 and face Union on Sept. 17.
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @JimHalley.