Walk-on to starter: Delmar grad Parker grabs Hornet linebacker job

DOVER — Brooks Parker found out the good news in the spring.

He was going to school for free.

The Delmar High grad took out his phone and called home.

“The first thing I did was call my mother,” Parker said. “I was like, ‘Mom, I did it.’ It was a big relief.”

When the Delaware State University football team takes the field for its season opener on Thursday at the University of Delaware, Parker will be not just a full scholarship player but also a starting linebacker for the Hornets.

Brooks Parker

It’s the completion of a journey which took a little over a year for Parker.

He wasn’t sure where he was going to school after graduating from Delmar in the spring of 2018. It wasn’t until the summer that he decided to attempt to walk on at Delaware State.

Parker not only made the team, but worked his way into the lineup by the end of the year.

Coach Rod Milstead said Parker’s play left no doubt about how he was going to use his available scholarships for the upcoming season.
“You talk about someone that earned his way,” Milstead said. “I had to give him a full scholarship and he earned every cent of that.”

Parker sat out the first several games of Delaware State’s 2018 campaign before making his debut in the fifth game at Norfolk State. He played in the final six contests and recorded seven tackles.

That was the final step on his road from quite literally the bottom of the depth chart to the top.

Parker will start at outside linebacker on Thursday (7 p.m.) in the linebacking core with Brian Cavicante in the middle and Alexander Lozano on the other side.

“Coach Milstead always preaches that you’re a starter waiting to play,” Parker said. “I was always working hard, busting my tail to try to get noticed. I wanted to at least be in the rotation, then I wanted to be a factor. I worked hard and now I’m a starter.”

Milstead joked he knew he was getting a smart player when he found out Parker was going to major in engineering.

“His IQ is through the roof,” Milstead said. “You can see that.”

Parker played on both sides of the ball at Delmar as a standout running back and linebacker as he helped lead the Wildcats to the Division II state title as a senior in 2017.

He said the hardest part of moving to college ball was the speed of play.

“The game is definitely faster,” Parker said. “Guys are stronger too. I had to get adjusted to the speed of the game. Then I had to build some extra strength.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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