Steven Parker never wanted his son to have an excuse.
That's why for the first decade of Steven Parker II's life, he knew very little of his grandfather's important place in the University of Oklahoma's storied football history.
“I just didn't think it was relevant,” the elder Parker said. “I didn't want him to go through life thinking, ‘OK, this is a get out of jail free pass.'
“Go out there, stand on your own two feet and be the best you can possibly be.”
That's exactly what his son has done, becoming one of the nation's best safety prospects in the recruiting class of 2014 and signing a National Letter of Intent earlier this month with Oklahoma, where his grandfather, Charles, became one of the first black football players in school history.
Charles Parker, George Farmer and Sylvester Norwood all enrolled at OU in 1954 and joined the freshman football team out of Dunjee High School in Oklahoma City.
Farmer and Norwood had to quit because of financial issues with commuting back and forth from Oklahoma City, and Charles Parker left the school after suffering a concussion when his head struck a steel blocking sled, according to Harold Keith's 1984 book “Forty-Seven Straight: The Wilkinson Era at Oklahoma.”
“He wasn't on scholarship, so he had no choice but to leave the university,” the elder Steven Parker said.
Only a couple years later, running back Prentice Gautt became the first black football player at Oklahoma on a scholarship, earning All-Big Eight honors twice and becoming the 1959 Orange Bowl MVP.
Charles Parker tried to shield his son Steven from his history at Oklahoma.
“He did not cross that bridge with me,” Steven said. “I think he felt like that would've built the wrong type of kid and that wasn't what he was looking for.”
But by the time he was 16 or 17 years old, he'd heard enough of his father's story to be angry about it. He graduated from Star Spencer in 1978 and went on to play football at Oklahoma State.
That sort of anger is what he tried to prevent while his son was developing into a standout football player at Jenks. But when people would ask the elder Steven Parker about his father's legacy, his young son would usually be around and hear some of it.
“He learned by default, so I had to sit him down and tell him about it,” Parker said. “He was maybe 10 of 12, too young to really understand what I was saying.”
Steven Parker II (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was the nation's No. 53-ranked player according to Rivals.com. He finished his senior season with 53 tackles and six interceptions, while also contributing 34 receptions, 622 yards and nine touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball for the Class 6A state champion Trojans.
“Basically I'm just going to try to live up to my grandfather and try to be better,” Parker said. “That's my biggest goal. I'm going to play for my family but ultimately I want to be the better man and I think that's what my dad wants.”