The next man up always has to be ready. And for Missouri tight end Daniel Parker Jr., he’s been ready for awhile.
The former-defensive end, now tight end had to fill in at tight end the past two games against Florida and Vanderbilt in Albert Okwuegbunam and Kendall Blanton’s absences. Parker has done so admirably, nabbing his first career catch against the Gators and first touchdown Saturday in the Tigers’ win over the Commodores.
Parker reeled in three catches for 42 yards and a score in Missouri’s most recent game, earning him SEC Freshman of the Week honors.
Quarterback Drew Lock praised his third-string, true freshman tight end: “Daniel [Parker Jr.] grew up really fast.”
Indeed he did.
Missouri’s staff recruited Parker as a defensive end. He was a four-star prospect at Blue Springs High School, ranking 18th nationally at the position and sixth overall in Missouri. As a senior, Parker racked up 16 sacks en route to leading his team to a state championship appearance.
With an abundance of veteran pass-rushers in the program and a lack of tight end depth, head coach Barry Odom asked Parker to make the switch, and he’s done a great job transitioning.
For more background on Parker and his transition from defense to offense, read our football beat writer, Jack Parodi’s, article from Saturday.
Blanton is listed as Missouri’s starting tight end for the Tigers’ upcoming game against Tennessee, but that was the case last week, too. Parker may need to step up in his spot once again if Blanton’s knee sprain is more serious than some previously thought.