Three-year lettermen who started 23 games for the Seminoles over his last two seasons and played in 43 games overall. Parks was the sixth-leading tackler on the No. 4 ranked defense in the nation last season.
Signing with the Chiefs marks the first time he won’t be a Seminole (Creekside High School (Fairburn, Ga.) Seminoles and Florida State Seminoles). Parks chose Florida State over Auburn, Ohio State, Alabama, and Tennessee. He was the fifth-rated cornerback in his class coming out of high school.
Parks made the transition from cornerback to safety during Florida State’s spring practices in 2009. He played cornerback in seven games for the ’Noles as a true freshman in 2008.
“We had a lot of safeties leave,” Parks remembered of the position change he underwent as a sophomore. “Coach (Mickey) Andrews said, ‘I need you to move to safety,’ so that sealed it.”
Chiefs Nation Should Know:
Few players on the Chiefs roster know
Besides being good friends, Berry and Parks lined up in the same defensive backfield as teenagers at Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga. Berry, two years older than Parks, was the nation’s top-rated cornerback prospect. Parks manned the other island.
Parks, who signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted rookie in the spring, also played wide receiver for Creekside. Berry doubled as the Seminoles’ quarterback.
“I remember one time I caught a touchdown pass, it was the playoffs, like the third round of the playoffs and we were playing Griffin High School,” Parks recalled. “Eric threw a go-up to me and I went up there and caught it and it was really like the deciding touchdown of the game, so we’ve always had a good relationship.
“I’ll tell you, everything he does now I saw him do in Tennessee, he did the same thing in high school. It seems like its just repetition with Eric, like his performance just keeps repeating itself. When we were in high school, he made the same plays, interceptions on defense and touchdowns on offense. So, he’s always been a great athlete.”
This offseason, Berry inadvertently left his friend and former high school teammate a rare opportunity for any undrafted rookie.
With Berry continuing rehabilitation on his injured left knee, Parks saw extensive reps with the first-team defense at Berry’s strong safety position. On the opening day of OTAs Parks was the Chiefs only rookie – drafted or undrafted – working with the starting lineup on either side of the football.
“Of course Eric wasn’t practicing, but he was always in my ear,” Parks said. “He’s always giving me little pointers and telling me things to do. He’s constantly helping me out.
“Him being my friend, of course I’m ready to see him get back on the field. He’s been hurt and I want to see him get back out there and do what he does best. I’m excited.’
The Chiefs rotated several players at strong safety throughout OTAs in Berry’s absence. Head Coach Romeo Crennel wanted to see what he had in the reserve ranks before Berry returns to his starting position for the start of training camp.
Parks admits being thrown into first-team reps was an eye-opener that contained its share of ups and downs, but it was also an opportunity afforded to few undrafted players. He’s confident the extra looks will only increase his chances of making the Chiefs roster.
“The ups and downs, kit’s part of the process,” Parks said. “It’s something that you look forward to yet you have to take it and accept and learn from it. So, the whole process has been a great learning experience.”
Berry’s arrival will push Parks to the reserves when training camp begins, but the Pro Bowler will continue to aid his undrafted friend this preseason in hopes of a high school reunion extending into the regular season.