One of the more memorable recruiting moments of the Steve Sarkisian era came on signing day in 2010 when safety Sean Parker of Narbonne High in Los Angeles chose the Huskies over USC and Michigan on national TV (a moment pictured to the right).
Now, roughly 14 months later, Parker is pegged as a potential replacement in 2011 for the graduated Nate Williams at strong safety. For the moment, though, Parker can’t grab full reins on the job, limited to non-contract duty through the spring after suffering a stinger-type injury in practice prior to the UCLA.
Parker said that “I damaged a nerve in my neck and didn’t have strength in my arm,” which caused him to miss the last four games of the 2010 season.
“I hit someone in practice and it just gave out on me,” he said.
He says he’s on the road back to recovery and isn’t worried that the injury will linger. But the team wants to play it safe, so for now, he wears red, limited to drills and individual work but sitting out anything that might involve contact.
“I still lift and everything,” he said. “Everything feels good, getting back to full swing now. It’s going slow for me, but eventually I will get there. As far as drills, I still do that, and footwork — I can do everything, just no hitting. I can do everything else out there.”
All of that allows Parker to continue to learn the defensive playbook. And he says the other drills allow him to work on what he feels was his main area of improvement — footwork and improving his speed.
The 5-10 Parker said he weighs about 202 pounds and would like to “lost a little bit more, get faster.”
Parker made 10 tackles in nine games last season, serving as UW’s primary nickelback. He also had one interception, in the end zone in the fourth quarter of the Oregon State game, a critical play in UW’s eventual double-overtime victory.
Shortly after the season, he said of his first year at UW that: “I felt like my freshman year was going good. I got used to a lot of things — I started getting in there and showing off what I could do. So it was all fun for me, a great season.”
He also returned five kickoffs for 95 yards and could be in the mix for those duties again this season.
His injury, as well as another limiting Taz Stevenson —- who had off-season shoulder surgery — leaves the safety spot a little in flux this spring. Nate Fellner is back as the starter at free safety. But the strong safety spot, and the backups and nickelback positions, won’t be fully sorted out until the fall when everyone presumably returns healthy.
“I’m just trying to come in and do my job, try to win the spot,” Parker said. “But it’s only spring so it’s too early to tell but I’ll just keep working hard.”