by Russell Cooks
What do you call a young man who averages 6.3 yards per carry on the football field and carries a 3.4 GPA in the classroom? You call him the total package! That’s exactly what Drezyn Parson is.
His commitment to excellence on and off the football field comes from the foundation that has been laid by his parents, Doug and Atiya Parson. Doug is a real estate mogul that measures his success in the number of high end houses that he moves in the Atlanta marketplace. Atiya is the Intervention Specialist at Sandy Creek High School and she holds a PhD. in curriculum and instruction, and she measures her success in the positive outcomes of the students that come through her program.
When asked about her son’s success in the classroom, Atiya said, “My advice to parents would be to start the process early. Freshman year is very important academically for athletes. If students start off with a low GPA, it is extremely difficult to pull it back up by their junior year. We have been fortunate that Drezyn is able to take care of business in the classroom as well.”
Doug added, “If you see your son has a true gift and is willing to work super hard at the gift he was blessed with and they truly want it, invest your time and money into it if you have it. As long as Drezyn keeps his GPA up and is respectful and works hard, I will do any and everything to help him get where he is trying to go.”
When asked about his parent’s commitment to academic excellence, Drezyn said, “They’re on me 24/7 about my grades. They do not allow C’s, so I have to get A’s and B’s always.”
With a 3.4 GPA Drezyn has totally embodied the role of a student-athlete. When asked how he balances the academics and football, Drezyn said, “I make them my top two priorities. Everyday after practice the first thing that I do is my homework. Then in the offseason, I do all my homework, and then go to training. I also pay attention in class and that makes the work easier so I can do it faster and have more time on my hands.”
The Parsons are all about striving for continuous improvement whether it is the extra work to get straight A’s or an extra mile to build endurance.
Drezyn is finishing up his junior year ithis fall he will be entering his senior year.
The Parsons started exposing Drezyn to organized sports at the age of four. He played football, t-ball, soccer, basketball, and track. However, he found his love for football at the age of five.
Atiya describes it by saying, “When Drezyn was five and first started playing football, people always commented on his speed and agility. When he was younger he was a little more vocal on the field and showed more leadership. We started to notice the more quiet side of him once he turned about 10 or 11 years old. He has always been coachable, and coaches would say we only have to show him one time and he has it.”
Coach Alan Gales, Drezyn’s youth football coach said, “I first saw Drezyn on an opposing team’s bench at 9 years old when he played and I coached with the Fayette County Blue Devils. I wondered why the coach had him on the bench and not getting any playing time because I could see the talent and passion he had for the game at a young age. At the end of the season, I approached his father and expressed my interest in his son and asked if he could play for me. The next spring we started working out as a team and in no time Drezyn had locked up the starting tailback position.”
Coach Gale’s 12-year old team won the Super Bowl. When asked what contributions Drezyn made, he said, “Drezyn contributed with his leadership and passion not only for the game but his passion to improve his skill set, passion to see his teammates improve their skill sets, and also his uncanny ability to be held accountable for his mistakes. Drezyn is a winner and brought that contagious winning attitude to practice and games every time he set foot on the gridiron. On the field Drezyn was our feature tailback that was tough, reliable, accountable, and a flat out beast with or without the ball in his hands!”
Flat Rock Days
Coach Ryan Ross said, “In my time at Flat Rock we have had the good fortune to have a lot of big time players come through our program. When we talk to our current guys we talk about the difference between good, great, and special players. We have only had a handful of special players and there is no doubt Drezyn is in that category.
“Drezyn has all the characteristics you want in a running back. He is fast, strong, has great vision, and is lightning quick. What was most impressive about him was how he got better as the game got late. Guys just got tired of tackling him and he seemed to get stronger and stronger with each carry.”
Asked about the most memorable play that he saw Drezyn make, Ross said, “Drezyn played running back for us his eighth grade year and was our go-to guy. In the fourth quarter of our championship game he was at his best. Every person in the stadium that day knew he was going to get the ball and he delivered. He carried the ball over and over on the last two drives of the game. He broke tackle after tackle as we scored a touchdown on one drive and ran out the clock on the other. He had one of the best runs I have ever seen a kid have. He has gone on to do some great things, and I know he will continue to do great things, but for me that was his best performance. I am just thankful I was able to be a part of that day.”
On to Sandy Creek
Sandy Creek is known for producing outstanding running backs. Just look at guys like Rajion Neal (University of Tennessee, now in the NFL) and Eric Swinney (Ole Miss). Parson wants to follow in their footsteps.
Gales said, “Physically Drezyn has always been strong, fast, with quick twitch muscle movements and a natural physique for the grind of football. Over the years I’ve noticed Drezyn mature into being more patient. He is patient both as a running back and as a teammate. Being patient helped Drezyn in playing behind Eric Sweeney. That was good for him to learn from the sideline and to witness firsthand the hard work and time it takes to become a high level college prospect.”
Drezyn always makes the most out of his opportunities. In 2015, he averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns.
When asked what kind of teammate Drezyn was, Swinney said, “Dre was a good teammate. He was always willing to learn and he was always asking what he can do to get better. He always strives for continuous improvement.”
When asked how he has seen Drezyn grow and mature, Sandy Creek head football coach Chip Walker said, “Most importantly he has grown and developed as a person and as a teammate. He has matured and grown into a better person. On the field he has gotten bigger and faster and stronger. His quickness makes him such a difficult person to tackle.”
The Sandy Creek days will be coming to an end in about a year from now. It is at these times that the parents start reflecting on seeing their son grow up and become a man.
Doug said, “I consider myself to be a pretty tough guy, but when he goes off to college it will definitely be heartbreaking for me. I even get emotional thinking about it. This football journey has really been the thing that brought us close together. At least, I will at least have his little brother Dealo to support and encourage. Dealo is also has a gifted football player and will be following in big brothers foot steps.”
Mrs. Parson added, “I feel like my work is almost done. I also feel a since of anxiousness because of the unknown. We’re not sure where he will attend college, but I do know that no matter where he is, I will be there cheering him on. As a mother, I feel proud and honored to have been blessed with such a great son. All of the sacrifices and long nights have paid off. The day he graduates will be a joyous and sad celebration for me, but I know only the beginning of a new phase of Drezyn’s life.”
When asked what goals has he set for your senior year, Drezyn said, “Win a state championship, prove all my doubters, wake up all my sleepers, and perform to the ability that I know I can which is total domination.”
When asked what advice he has for Drezyn’s senior year, Swinney said, “Focus on being a leader and handling their business on and off the football field.”
Drezyn has continued to work hard during the offseason. He recently competed in an Adidas Football Showcase. The event was led by former NFL player, Derrick Tatum and the Elite Football Talent Academy. The showcase had over 600 athletes from Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, and Florida. Players were tested in events including 20-yard shuttle, L-cone Drill, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, individual drills with position coaches, 1-on-1 drills, and 7-on-7 drills. Drezyn was rated as number three in the entire showcase.
When asked what stood out about Drezyn at the Adidas Showcase, Tatum said, “Some players were waiting around to be called on. Drezyn was consistently stepping up and showing initiative and leadership. He met every challenge head on.”
The Next Level
Drezyn has plenty of role models to look at as he aims to play in college. He cites Sweeney as one of them. “I have watched him play since his ninth grade year and seen his growth as a football player, and I have trained with him and seen him put in the work and put himself in the position that he is in now, which is at Ole Miss.”
When asked if Drezyn had the commitment and drive to get to the next level, Swinney replied, “Without a doubt! All he needs is a chance. He’s going to put in the work.”
When asked about Drezyn playing at the next level, Mrs. Parson said, “I am very excited about him playing football in college. I know that he’s prepared and ready for the journey. I know it will probably be hard on me at first not having him around everyday, but playing on the next level is what his dad and I have prepared him for. I know he will do great things. Wherever he goes, he will be an asset to their program academically and athletically.”
Mr. Parson added, “To sum it up in one word, I am elated! I can’t wait to see him playing on Saturdays on ESPN. It will be a dream come true for the whole family.”
When asked what Drezyn needs to do prepare for the next level, Coach Walker said, “Stay healthy and continue to get better in all parts of his game. Continue to be a passionate and fearless runner and use his speed and elusiveness to make the defense miss.”
“Have great faith, practice good study habits, remain coachable, continue his relentless work ethic, be patient, study film, don’t follow the in crowd and remember my motto from his youth playing days, ‘Our mission is free tuition’,” added Coach Gales.
In addition to running the Adidas Football Showcase, Derrick Tatum also serves as Drezyn’s football trainer. Tatum said, “Drezyn is a small shifty back with awesome speed. He is a specialty back like Darren Sproles. He can run ball out of the backfield. He can catch passes out of the backfield or slot. He can even return kickoffs and punts for the team. The key to a back like Drezyn, is to get the ball in his hands as often as possible and in many ways as possible.
“Drezyn is a linebacker’s nightmare. By the time he gets in the linebacker’s line of sight, it is too late. The linebacker isn’t able to respond to his speed and quickness. So, the key is to create the match ups that allow Drezyn to maximize his skill set.”
Coach Walker said, “Drezyn has a great personality and can always make you laugh and smile. His personality is very infectious and people gravitate to him.”
It has been a joy to watch Drezyn the last three years at Sandy Creek. It is always electric when he touches the ball, and his senior season should have plenty of sparks.