Quarterback of the Defense
by Brian North

He wears jersey number one, and he's easy to find on the football field. Always has been. Pierre Parker was a star quarterback at Beddingfield High School in Wilson. He had many stellar runs and dazzling passes that appeared on "The Blitz" on Friday nights. I remember one 50-yard whirling dervish for a touchdown at Greene Central. His athleticism was never in doubt. Pierre threw for over 1,300 yards and rushed for over 800 his senior year. He accounted for 28 touchdowns and was selected to the Shrine Bowl. Parker was rated as one of the top 25 prospects in the state.

He wanted to play quarterback in college. He chose ECU because the Pirates offered him a shot to call the signals on the offensive side of the ball. But with James Pinkney taking most of the snaps, Pierre wanted to get on the field, so he moved to defense.

Parker was shifted to linebacker and had moderate success. Then the new coaching staff tried Pierre in the back end of the "D", and he has found a home at safety. Now the communications major calls the signals for the secondary and is leading a defensive resurgence.

Pierre (ECU is the only school in the country with two Pierre's on the roster, linebacker Bell is the other) is second on the team in tackles with 43, and he is tied for first in interceptions with three. Skip Holtz will tell you he should have more. The Pirates' new head coach said Parker never dropped a ball in preseason camp, but had two picks slip through his fingers against Duke. He made up for it with a diving interception to the seal the victory over the Blue Devils. Then the redshirt sophomore picked off two passes against SMU and was selected as Conference USA's defensive player of the week.

Pierre can also lay the wood. Just ask Wake Forest qb/wr Corey Randolph. Parker drilled Randolph after he made a nice catch in Winston-Salem on the first series of the game, but number 17 for the Deac's wasn't seen much more on the field after that.

Parker keeps his postgame answers short and to the point. He likes his actions to do most of his talking. Pierre will need to bring the heat this week when ECU faces Memphis and C-USA's all-time leading rusher Deangelo Williams. But Parker has shown he is as good an athlete as the Pirates have on the field, and he will be a key player in this key East Division showdown that could make or break the Pirates chances of making the C-USA Championship game.

Brian North