Parker, who played at Beaufort High most under coach Mark Clifford, didn’t have any issues attracting young talent Saturday despite the 90-degree temperatures. The turnout was about 100.
The young patrons were awarded with an unexpected visit from another pro: two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
Poe and Parker were teammates on the Chiefs from 2013-16. Poe inked a one-year deal with the Falcons this offseason but still made time to support Parker’s annual camp.
“It’s all about family, man,” Poe said. “I’m happy to come out here to support my brother in his hometown.”
Parker was more than appreciative of the gesture.
“It’s special for him to come out here because most guys only have about 15 to 20 days before we have to be back at training camp, so everyone is busy getting ready,” Parker said.
“So for him to come out here, man, much respect, much love. That shows it goes deeper than football. He could be doing something other than being out here with my family and my community, but he came here all the way from Arizona and I tip my hat to him for that.”
Parker broke out with Chiefs in 2014 at age 27. Kansas City liked what it saw and signed him to a five-year deal in 2015. He and five-time All-Pro Eric Berry have since been one of the most stable safety tandems in the NFL.
The weekend was a rare opportunity for the area’s top prep talent to get some pointers from two of the best at what they do. It was also about showcasing talent and Parker said he left the field impressed.
“What stood out to me were plays on the ball. I saw a lot of those from the skill groups, both wide receivers and defensive backs,” he said. “There were a lot of amazing catches and amazing pass breakups. That tells me these guys are working to put themselves in better positions to make plays on balls.
“I love the intensity. The guys had the energy; it was live. They came out to compete. I had a really good day. I enjoyed it and I’m pretty sure they did, too.”
Parker and his fellow coaches wrapped up Saturday’s activities with one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive linemen. The receivers and defensive backs, who had gotten most of the attention earlier that morning, circled around the and watched the crowd-pleasing finale.
Not surprisingly, Poe was a fan.
“I loved how they wrapped (camp) up,” the Memphis native said. “A lot of times when you go to these (skill camps), all that stands out are the skill guys. Not here. Those big guys were intense and physical, man. It was cool to see.”
Parker said he doesn’t see the annual camp reaching its last year any time soon.
“This is something I want to continue to do as long as I’m playing football and even after I’m done. I want to give back to the area as long as I can,” he said.
The Newberry College product will report for his first day of training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., on July 28.
“I’m looking forward to having my best year,” Parker said. “I feel like my body is in the best shape it’s ever been since I’ve been in the league. So I’m looking to have a breakout season, one that I still haven’t had yet.”
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