Parker living in the moment

Parker living in the moment

AUBURN Ala. - Power hitting outfielder by spring and touchdown slinging quarterback by fall, Kyle Parker's life changed Monday night.

While Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was announcing Parker's name as the Colorado Rockies' first-round pick (26 overall), the Clemson rightfielder was trotting out to his position with the capacity crowd at Plainsman Park rising for the seventh inning stretch.

"Coming into the game I was a little nervous," Parker said. "I didn't know what was going to happen, from that standpoint. I felt kind of selfish even thinking about it because I really just wanted to come out here and play for the team. I really wanted to give these guys what they expected from me."

In the first inning of the final game of the Auburn Regional he did just that, knocking a three-run homer just over the right-centerfield wall.

Harassment from the fans in the right field seats ensued in the bottom half of the inning and throughout the rest of the night.

"They were telling me I was drafted third overall," Parker said. "I kind of didn't know what to believe.

"I told them when I went out there, ‘You guys can mess with me, just stop making stuff up with this draft thing. You're going to get my hopes up and I'm going to end up not getting taken until tomorrow.'

"I guess I kind of heard when they were like, ‘Yeah, you really did. You really did.' I was kind of, whatever, let's just keep playing."

It wasn't until Wilson Boyd's two-run double in the ninth and the word from someone he can actually trust. That's when assistant baseball coach Tom Riginos delivered the official word in the dugout.

"T.R. just looked at me and was just like, ‘Yeah, you got drafted by the Rockies.' I really didn't know what to say," Parker said. "I was really excited. I have to thank God and realize that I'm truly blessed to be in this situation."

The big question remains the same.

What are you going to do?

"Now I know where I'm going to end up. I guess we can figure out all that other stuff after the season is over with," Parker said. "The biggest thing is now I don't have to worry about who I'm going to impress at the games or what people think about me. Now it's just playing for Clemson and trying to make it to Omaha."

Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett said Parker's handled everything well since he stepped on campus as a freshman in the spring of 2008.

"He's handled the football. He's the balance between the two. He's handled the relationship with (football coach) Dabo (Swinney) and myself—football, how he handles his teammates in football and how he handles his teammates in baseball," Leggett said. "We respected him instantly, from the moment he walked on campus out of high school when he should have been in high school still."

In a release from the school, Swinney noted that Colorado has taken a similar route before.

"It is not surprising that he was drafted by Colorado because they have had great success with Todd Helton, who also played quarterback at Tennessee," Swinney said. "We will sit down with Kyle and his family some time after the baseball season ends. We won't do anything to disrupt our baseball team in post season play. At least now we know where he stands."

As a red shirt freshman on the football team, Parker threw 20 touchdown passes as the Tigers' starting quarterback, helping the Tigers to a 9-5 record, the Atlantic Division championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference and a No. 24 final ranking in the Associated Press poll. Parker tied for first in the nation in wins by a starting freshman quarterback with nine.

As a junior on the baseball team, Parker leads Clemson in home runs, runs scored, slugging percentage and on-base percentage this year.

If he was to sign a baseball contract and return to play football in the fall, he would no longer be on scholarship with the Clemson football team.

Last year's No. 26 pick overall, pitcher Eric Arnett, was handed a $1.197 million signing bonus by the Milwaukee Brewers.

In 2009, Colorado's first pick (first-round, No. 11), Tyler Matzek, was given a $3.9 million signing bonus.

"I am happy for Kyle," Swinney said. "He has worked hard all season. He has had a tremendous baseball season after he had a terrific year at quarterback for us in the fall. Being the first 20-20 (TD passes and home runs) athlete in college sports history is really quite an accomplishment.

"Kyle is a fine young man and we will respect whatever decision he makes. I feel he has a bright future in football as well and certainly hope he will be under center for us this fall."

Parker is the first Division I athlete to record 20 touchdown passes on the gridiron and hit 20 home runs in baseball in the same academic year.

"That may never be done again in the history of the NCAA," Leggett said.

The two-time first-team All-ACC player was hitting .358 entering Monday night's game. His three-run homer gave him 61 RBIs for the season.

During his three-year baseball career, Parker has 46 home runs, eighth best in Clemson history and 13 short of school's all-time record. He's also the eighth player in Clemson history to hit at least 20 home runs in a single season.

Parker is the first Clemson player taken in the first round since Daniel Moskos was the fourth pick of the 2007 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and is the tenth first-round draft pick since Jack Leggett came to Clemson in 1994

"Before the game today," Leggett said, "I just said, ‘Relax.' I gave him one little bit of advice. I said, ‘You'll hit more homeruns by trying to hit line drives then you'll hit line drives trying to hit homeruns.'"

"He's had a 10-star day."

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