JENKS — Steven Parker readily admits he has never been an ordinary kid.
Like many of Jenks' players, he has been scarred by what they simply refer to as “The Hill,” a 200-yard incline biking trail near the Creek Turnpike many of the Trojans run for conditioning. Parker, though, takes his dedication to it to a new level.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound safety has been running The Hill or variations of it since he began playing football in the first grade and still runs a hill twice a week. It came at the urging of his father, Steven, as one of the many tools used to develop an athleticism few have matched on the field.
“He's the guy that actually really pushed me and he woke me up in the morning, made me run hills, pushups and sit-ups every day,” Parker said. “I was still that guy working out every day and that's still what I do to this day.”
Rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, Parker fields more than 25 scholarship offers from across the country and is ranked No. 1 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruit rankings for 2014.
His offers include Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M, respectively. Right now, though, he doesn't appear close to a decision. He intends to visit Michigan, Ohio State and possibly Nebraska and Ole Miss after having already visited OU, OSU, Texas and Texas A&M.
“There's some days where I try not to think about it because it kind of stresses me out just because I'm only going to have to choose one school out of all the other schools,” Parker said. “It's going to be one of the decisions that you're going to make in your lifetime. It's going to a hard process, but as summer ends and as the football season goes on, I'll still keep thinking about that and I'll end up making a choice.”
Parker can lean on his father for guidance during the recruiting process, too.
The elder Parker played safety at Oklahoma State in 1978 and 1979 after starring at Star Spencer. But he failed to focus on his academics and never really earned playing time. He left OSU in 1980, joined the Marines and now works at Walgreens. At the age of 52, he has yet to return to college to finish his degree, instead choosing to focus on raising his family.
“I think that him basically knowing my troubles at OSU helps him a lot because I told him, ‘The one thing you don't want to go do is make the same mistake your dad did and major in football,'” the elder Parker said.
But that's not the only football bloodline for Parker.
His grandfather Charles Parker was part of the Dunjee trio that attempted to become the first black players to walk on at the University of Oklahoma in 1955. He ultimately was injured, though, and transferred to Central State University. One year later, Prentice Gautt broke the color barrier for the Sooners.
But even with his Bedlam roots, Steven Parker remains neutral.
“I just kind of grew up watching OU,” he said. “Now since the recruiting process, I've gone to visit both schools, I'm kind of just neutral now. It's just not a thing anymore.”
Parker now is turning his attention to leading Jenks to another state championship.
He helped lead the Trojans to one last season, his first at safety after playing cornerback as a sophomore.
“Steven just has a lot of those innate qualities, things you can't teach or coach,” Jenks defensive coordinator Keith Riggs said. “He never gets bent out of shape or panics. At times he's so fluid you almost think he's being lazy or not going all out, but it's just he's so natural at everything.”
And with fellow safety Dylan Harding, who is No. 15 on the Super 30, roaming alongside him, Jenks features perhaps the best secondary in the state.
At the least, it's the most sought-after duo in the last decade at Jenks.
“The kid can play. It's quite obvious,” Harding said about Parker. “I wouldn't have anybody else playing next to me. It makes things easier on both parts. I'm sure it's easier for him to play next to me and it's just as easy for me to play next to him.
“It's hard to find that in any other school.”