At 5-foot-6, 160 pounds, Sandy Creek High School’s Drezyn Parson knew he had to do something to stand out. The diminutive running back was third in a pecking order that included a future Cincinnati commit and a Duke commit.
Parson worked over the summer catching passes out of the slot position and learning to catch kickoffs, finding ways to get on the field however he could. His desire to showcase his versatility paid off. On the day after Christmas, the kid who was told he was too undersized to play Division-I football unwrapped one more present for his friends and family when he officially announced he’d accepted an offer to play for Jacksonville University.
Jacksonville was the one of four college football scholarship offers Parson received, a product of a senior year in which he rushed for 517 yards and 7 touchdowns, returned two kickoffs the distance, and earned himself All-County Returner of the Year with a 48.3 yards per return average. Parson’s ability to show that he was more than just a running back drew the interest of Jacksonville.
“I think they knew they could use me in different ways, and they knew they were getting more than one thing,” Parson said.
Parson thanked friends, family, and coaches in a Twitter announcement, but he also thanked his doubters. He said the doubters were all the people who thought he’d never get D-I offer because of his size. Even if they didn’t say it to his face, Parson knew there were doubters among him. Some included scouts from other Division-I schools.
“I know there were a lot of places that really liked him and they, just because of his height, shied away from offering him,” said Sandy Creek head coach Chip Walker.
One person who never had a doubt Drezyn would get at least one D-I offer is his father, Doug. Drezyn said he knew every undersized player needs to have something special about him to get noticed by the bigger schools. Doug saw that quality in his son from a young age.
“I always knew he was super special since he was 5 years old,” Doug said.
While scouts may have seen shortcomings in Drezyn’s physical attributes, Drezyn’s parents and coaches made sure he stayed on top of all the parts of his life that were in his control. In the Parson household, there was always an emphasis on excelling in the classroom, and Drezyn has not slipped in that department. Currently maintaining a 3.5 grade point average, Drezyn is described by Walker as someone “you know is going to be doing the right thing.”
Drezyn expects to start out as a returner, but hopes to work his way into the Jacksonville backfield sooner rather than later. It’s a challenge Drezyn believes he can accomplish, in part because the Jacksonville system offers more than one running back a chance to shine with its triple option attack.
Jacksonville ranked ninth this past season in FCS in rush yards per game with 248.2, compared to only 176.5 pass yards per game.
Drezyn is excited to showcase his talent at the collegiate level, but understands there are still parts of his game he needs to improve. Speed and explosiveness and reading blocks are areas where Drezyn wants to get better because he knows the game speeds up and defensive line schemes will be more advanced at the next level.
There are many challenges that lie ahead as Drezyn prepares to suit up to play college football, but he made it out of a crowded backfield when few thought he could. He isn’t afraid to do it again.
“I’ve been carrying the chip on my shoulder since rec ball,” Parson said. “People being bigger than me. It won’t be anything new because I’m always one of the smallest people on the field.”