He’s shorter than most college football players.
He’s lighter than most college football players.
But South Brunswick senior Danny Parker has what all football players need: belief in self. And that belief, combined with a will to work, is why Wingate University wants him on its football team.
Parker signed a letter of intent Feb. 22 to attend Wingate. He signed in front of a large gathering in the conference room in the Mose Lewis Fieldhouse.
“I know Danny appreciates you being here,” South football coach Rocky Lewis said. “This is an indication of the kind of player and person he is — the fact that he’s got this much support and people care.”
Parker knew Wingate was where he wanted to play football after a visit to the campus. Parker’s aunt and uncle live nearby, too.
“When I went up and talked to the coach and looked at the campus and came home, I told my parents, ‘I think this is a perfect fit for me. I know I can play here.’ That’s why I picked it,” he said.
He intends to major in business.
Parker is athletic enough to be either a running back, slot receiver or safety.
Parker (5-foot-8, 180 pounds) is on the All-Mideastern 3A/4A Conference first team as a running back.
For the season, Parker gained 1,318 yards in 10 games. He scored 17 touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in eight games.
Parker also caught 19 passes for 209 yards and scored one TD. He had nearly one-half of the Cougars’ all-purpose yards: 1,603 of 3,241.
Parker has had many memorable moments during his career at South.
“When we beat New Hanover this year,” he said, “that was probably the biggest accomplishment.
“And when I hit 1,000 yards rushing.”
On Feb. 2, national signing day, Wingate head football coach Joe Reich announced the signing of 31 student-athletes for the fall of 2022.
The Bulldogs finished the 2021 regular season with a 26-19 victory over visiting Mars Hill University on Nov. 13. Wingate finished 6-2 in the SAC, 7-3 overall.
Reich finished his 21st season as Wingate University head football coach in 2021. In 2019, Reich led the Bulldogs (10-2 overall) to a school-record for victories and a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
In addition to his responsibilities as head coach, Reich mentors the Wingate running backs and oversees the team’s kickers, punters and long snappers. In 20 Wingate seasons, Reich has an overall record of 131-83. He is the all-time winningest coach in Wingate football history.
Lewis has coached Parker — a three-sport athlete — the past three seasons.
“One of the things I’ve admired about Danny,” Lewis said, “is that he figured out what was important to him and what his goals were. He made that thing the most important. And that thing was football. Football was No. 1 to him. And because of that, he was willing to put in the work. …
“Most people don’t see the work that happens by yourself, with a few teammates, things like that. And that’s where people who want to play at the next level set themselves apart. And to be able to do that, you have to put in the work. And I admire that in Danny.”
Parker’s dad, Dan, said his son “has put in a lot of work for a long, long time. I appreciate the coaches who have worked with him — and believed in him.
“But No. 1, he believed in himself. He knew what his goals were and worked toward them.”
Speaking to those in attendance, Danny Parker said, “You can achieve your goals if you put your mind to it. Anything can be done if you believe in yourself.”