Parrish opts to play for Wake Forest

January 05, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

More than 100 colleges contacted Howard's DaLawn Parrish about playing football next season.

The Division 1-A colleges told him he'd play defensive back; the Division 1-AA schools promised him a quarterback spot.

The preseason All-America selection visited Wake Forest, Rutgers and North Carolina State, and then gave 1-A Wake Forest his verbal commitment on Dec. 30.

"I'll be competing for a spot at cornerback, punt returner and kick returner," Parrish said. "I'm looking forward to a new challenge. It will be just like starting over again."

One of the things Parrish most liked about Wake Forest, located in Winston-Salem, N.C., was its size -- 3,600 undergraduates -- as opposed to "35,000 at Rutgers and an N.C. State campus so big you couldn't see to the end of it."

"At Wake Forest they only have 16 students in their general biology class, and their biggest class is 34 students," said Parrish, who carries a 3.8 cumulative GPA at Howard.

"I thought I fit in best there because it is a young team. I felt I'd be part of a family and not just a number. I liked the atmosphere and the other players. And it's a top educational school that plays in a good league."

Terrence Suber, The Baltimore Sun's 1992 All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year from City College, showed Parrish around the campus during his visit. Suber played safety last season for the 3-8 Deacons.

Second-year Deacons head coach Jim Caldwell also played a large role in Parrish's decision.

"He's a down-to-earth head coach who believes in making his players into young men and not just in winning football games," Parrish said.

Caldwell visited Howard after the season, and one of Caldwell's assistant coaches watched Parrish play against Centennial.

"Whenever the head coach shows up, you know they are really interested," said John Quinn, Parrish's coach for the past three seasons at Howard.

Another factor that influenced Parrish was that, like Suber, he'll get the opportunity to play as a true freshman.

Parrish is 5 feet 10 1/2 and 175 pounds, which he says is already bigger than most incoming defensive backs.

"Wake needs defensive help and athletically he can make an impact right away," said Quinn.

"Most Division 1-A colleges have pro passing games, and DaLawn is too short to be a drop-back passer. He also considered the Ivy League. I can't tell you how excited Wake Forest is to get him."

James Madison, Richmond and Delaware State considered Parrish at quarterback.

Parrish was Quinn's first Division 1-A recruit in nine seasons as head coach. Quinn, a former lineman and captain at Penn State, resigned after last season to become Howard County's supervisor of science.

Parrish helped lead the Lions to a 9-2 record and their first county title in 17 years in his junior season. He passed for 727 yards and rushed for 513 yards and was the first-team All-County quarterback.

This past season the Lions went 8-2, losing to Oakland Mills, 19-18, on a last-minute touchdown drive in a game that decided both the county title and a playoff berth.

Parrish again produced big numbers offensively, passing for 1,097 yards and 16 touchdowns, and rushing for 593 yards and nine touchdowns. He also returned 11 punts for 401 yards and one touchdown.

He was selected as The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Defensive Player of the Year, making 28 unassisted tackles and 50 assists, six tackles for losses, four quarterback sacks and one interception. The safety made at least a dozen touchdown-saving tackles.

Parrish also was selected as a first-team defensive back on The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro team, and as a defensive back on the Associated Press Consensus All-State team.

Parrish grew up in Anne Arundel County and played for the East Glen Burnie Warriors.

"When I was 11, my coach, Mike Francis, told me I could play in college some day, and that made me work hard," Parrish said.

His family moved to Howard County before his sophomore year of high school.

"It proved to be a good move, because a lot of people have looked out for me and really cared about me here," Parrish said.

"We almost moved into the Wilde Lake district, but my family decided that rather than be part of an established program it would be better to help rebuild a program. I owe a lot to Coach Quinn. He's a fine man and I'm going to miss him."

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