MAMARONECK – Despite reassurances from people he trusted, Alex Parkinson sure had his bouts with self-doubt. Was his highlight film enough? Would his foot heal in time? And if not, who would want him?
Answers to those first two questions came sooner than he ever imagined. They solved his last just as quickly.
Syracuse defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough paid a visit to Parkinson at Mamaroneck High School in May. After a conversation, Bullough took Parkinson outside, snapped a couple photos and zapped them back to campus. A quick phone call later, the coach returned inside and presented the statuesque senior-to-be with his first offer.
So much for those doubts.
“Everything just exploded from there,” Parkinson said.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Parkinson is all better now from the broken foot that cost him most of last season. He will open camp Monday with eight Division I offers, giving him as much major college interest as any recruit in the area.
“It’s an awesome feeling, making a name for myself and trying to make a name for the school,” said Parkinson, a wide receiver and safety who has drawn interest as an outside linebacker and hybrid receiver/tight end. “We’ve had success in baseball and lacrosse recently. I really want to build up the football program and make it a name around Section 1.”
Major football recruits have been few for the Tigers. Former star Maurice Murray (now an assistant coach) set school rushing records at Northeastern, but he graduated from Mamaroneck back in 2003.
Parkinson’s older brother, Will, walked on at Towson as a wide receiver before recently transferring to Cortland.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Will Parkinson, who graduated in 2012. “I believed he was going to be really good, but you want everyone else to see it and it’s good to see him get the recognition that you think he should get. It means I did a good job of kicking his (butt) all those years.”
The younger Parkinson has dished out his share, too. Although he’s probably best known by opponents as a receiving target, his physicality has been the major focus of recruiters. Mamaroneck coach Anthony Vitti said both offensive and defensive coaches at UConn appealed to Parkinson to play on their side of scrimmage.
UConn is among the eight schools that have made offers, along with Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, Rhode Island, Cornell, Army and Navy. It’s an impressive list for someone who played just 10 quarters as a junior.
“He was really concerned with not having that much tape, but I told him the few things he got on tape were really going to open people’s eyes,” Vitti said. “He was playing great.”
Even his broken foot came at a reel-worthy moment. In the second quarter of Mamaroneck’s Week 3 game against Ramapo, Parkinson knifed into the backfield and dropped the ball carrier for a big loss. But the collision resulted in his broken foot, which required surgery and a seven-month, 12-day recovery.
Parkinson knows the timeline because he counted every day. He first watched Mamaroneck sink to a 3-6 record, and then worked hard to rehab and refine his conditioning as he prepared for camp season.
“He came back and was like a baby reindeer on Day 1, getting his legs under him,” Vitti said. “He since has gotten involved in our scrimmages and I think he’s ready. He’s peaking at the right time right now.”
Parkinson’s heart sunk watching his injury-riddled team struggle. A roster of 26 contracted even further, and it wasn’t just because of his foot. Another two-way star, Marquez Jackson-Allen, was hobbled by a high ankle sprain, and an already thin, young line thinned further.
With his college fears assuaged, Parkinson will begin practice Monday devoted to finishing strong.
“It was tough watching from the sidelines last year and not having the success we had thought,” Parkinson said. “In camp, we were very confident and it kind of got shot down through injuries. It hurt us a lot, so we’re looking to avoid those injuries this year and have a good season.”
With eight Division I offers, Mamaroneck’s Alex Parkinson is among the area’s most coveted senior recruits. Here are others who have garnered buzz on the trail:
Brandon Coleman, Stepinac QB: Offers from Davidson, Harvard, Navy and Yale
Drew Estes, Harrison FB/LB: Committed to Bryant
Jonathan Forrest, New Rochelle RB/LB: Offers from Army, Buffalo and Monmouth
Gavin Heslop, Stepinac DB: Offer from Monmouth
Andrew Livingston, Rye QB: Committed to Brown
Damarcus Miller, Stepinac DB: Offer from Stony Brook
Qaadir Sheppard, Iona Prep, TE/DL/LB: Offers from Boston College, Buffalo, Central Florida, Old Dominion, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, UConn, UMass and Virginia