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Sep 15, 2023

Walker Parks | Enjoying Every Moment

By: Makenna Biehl

Note: The following appears in the Florida Atlantic football gameday program.

Senior offensive lineman Walker Parks has a deep passion for the game, which has allowed him to be successful on the field. Growing up in a football family has significantly impacted Parks’ life. He grew up playing with his brother, Graham, and his father, David, was an offensive lineman at Kentucky.

“I am very family-oriented…my family is everything to me. My dad coached me until high school and then let me go off on my own to work with the high school coaches. My family has been my biggest support. I owe them everything and am working to give back to them.”

With the guidance of his family, Parks racked up several achievements in his high school career. He was listed as the No. 71 overall player by 247Sports, No. 7 at his position and No. 2 in Kentucky. In the last two years of high school, he played under Brian Landis at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Ky., where the two-year team captain did not allow a sack in 15 games as a senior.

“I spent the first two years playing at Lexington Christian Academy with my brother and all his friends. Going into my junior year, I transferred to Frederick Douglass High School. I had a ton of fun there, met a lot of great people and played with a lot of great athletes. My coaches at both schools helped me to get where I am now.”

His success playing football in high school earned him an offer from Clemson, a team he spent many hours watching as a youth.

“One of my best friends and I would go to his house every Saturday and watch the Clemson games because he was a Tiger fan. Over the years, we kept watching the games, and I started keeping up with the team.”

The love that Parks built for Clemson as a kid has remained strong. He even explained that when Head Coach Dabo Swinney offered him a scholarship, he wanted to commit on the spot, but his father told him to keep his options open, as he still had two years left.

“I always had the gut feeling when I came here, saw the campus and met the people. I fell in love immediately.”

Since starting his time at Clemson, fans have seen his growth on the field. Parks has fully committed himself to the team over the past few years, as his knowledge of the game has grown.

“I’ve gotten a lot stronger and bigger. I’ve changed my body composition, and I feel like I’m at that perfect medium. I’m the strongest and leanest I’ve ever been and feel fast and quick. The biggest thing is my intelligence, football-wise. I have a lot of progress to make, but the coaches have been phenomenal.”

With a few years under his belt, Parks has earned a veteran status on the team, allowing him to take on some new responsibilities.

“I have been a leader on the team for the last couple of years. As a senior, guys look at you a little more. The biggest thing I have stepped into as a senior is I am the middle back on the punt team, which is fun for me. I will get to block for the punter and hopefully run down the field and make a tackle.”

Parks’ individual development has contributed to the evolution of the offensive line as a whole.

“Everyone has gotten bigger, stronger and faster. Aside from that, we have all gotten a lot closer. We all hang out every weekend, whether grilling out, watching football games or watching UFC fights. I have made lifelong best friends here, and we all have gotten better at football together.”

Not only has the offensive linemen built strong relationships with each other, they also have a solid relationship with the quarterback room. The relationship between the two groups allows for achievements on the gridiron when kickoff arrives.

“I came in with Hunter Helms, so we are really good friends. Cade Klubnik has taken care of us very well. He has gotten us Beats and took the offensive line out to dinner one night. We all mess with each other all the time. We have a really good relationship with them.”

Senior season creeps up on football players fast, but Parks has taken the time to step back and appreciate his time at Clemson and what will come during his senior year.

“One of my goals this season is to step into the leadership role I think I was meant for. I also want to stay healthy and give it everything I have. You want to get to the playoff so badly, but you do not get there if you do not focus on all the games before that.

“With this being my senior year, I have been trying to enjoy every moment. This is the first time in my career that I had a blast at fall camp. I loved being there for 12 hours, sitting through meetings and being critiqued.”

Parks is committed to the game and hopes to play in the NFL one day, but he also has set fulfilling goals outside of football.

“A dream of mine is the NFL. I have wanted to play there since I was five, which I know is so stereotypical. There are two ways for this to go. I want to play in the NFL long enough to make enough money to pay for law school and become a defense attorney.

“On the other side, if I am fortunate enough to have a long career in the NFL and make enough money, I would like to buy a big plot of land. I want to own and operate a ranch. It would be a good place to start a family and live out my days.”