Research more than just the size.
That was the message Mill Creek head football coach Josh Lovelady has stressed to college coaches coaches regarding one of his rising seniors, Parker Wroble. Wroble’s 5-foot-9, 168-pound frame won’t draw any special attention, but his other traits will.
“His film really pops,” Lovelady said. “(College coaches) talk about his size and I say, ‘I’m just telling you. You better look at the highlight film.’ Some of them who have been recruiting Georgia and know the area see him (on video) going against Archer, Brookwood, Norcross, and they know he’s going up against tough competition.”
Wroble’s abilities on the football field, boosted by his success with the Hawks’ track and field team, have made him a coveted college prospect — he is up to 23 college offers and counting. He visited West Point, N.Y., last weekend to check out Army, and scheduled a trip this weekend to Coastal Carolina. He wants to see Air Force and Kent State soon, and already has been to Miami (Ohio) and several in-state colleges who have offered.
“(Recruiting’s) been different than I expected,” said Wroble, whose father Steve was a defensive back in the SEC at Kentucky. “It turned out to be very overwhelming at some points. But it’s also nice to have so many coaches who want you on their team and believe in you. They want you to achieve greatness at their school. And it’s nice to visit all these places.”
The steady attention from colleges is based heavily on what coaches say matters most — on-the-field results.
Wroble was a threat in multiple ways as a junior, both on offense and on special teams, where he was a playmaker on kickoff and punt returns. Despite missing some time with an injury, he was a first-team all-county selection and a second-team all-state pick by the Georgia Sports Writers Association.
He averaged 10.4 yards per touch offensively last season, rushing 86 times for 663 yards and seven touchdowns, and catching 45 passes for 698 yards and three more scores.
“His competitiveness, he hates to lose in whatever he does, is a strength,” Lovelady said. “He is a kid that will do anything, throw his body around. At running back, he’s so physical. Meaning, at his size, you’d think he would get banged around. But he’s such a physical kid. And his football knowledge is great. We moved him around to four different positions, wildcat quarterback to running back to inside receiver to outside receiver, and his football IQ is off the charts.”
Wroble said he enjoys receiver the most, learning to love a position he didn’t play until his sophomore season. He grew up as a running back and a defensive back, but he doesn’t play cornerback anymore. However, he still gets to do most everything offensively for the Hawks.
“It can be challenging sometimes (to juggle positions),” said Wroble, a 3.3 GPA student. “I think the coaches have done a really good job keeping us on track, learning our jobs and keeping the younger guys on track. So they learn and understand how important it is execute plays.”
Wroble, as a veteran player, has grown into that teaching role, too.
“He does a great job of leading by example, intensity, making plays,” Lovelady said. “I think now he’s at the point where he can help others. He’s played since he was a sophomore (on varsity) and now he can be that mentor to the others. That’s what has impressed me this summer. He will take a sophomore kid, one of his backups, and coach him up. It used to be just worry about Parker. We would tell him to worry about himself. Now he knows it so well he’s ready to pass it along to the next kid.”
That was the case during spring practices this year when Wroble visited the Hawks. He missed spring because of his participation with Mill Creek’s track and field team, which also benefited greatly from his versatility.
He ran the 100-meter dash in a best of 10.8 seconds and helped his 400 relay team to third place at the state meet, but truly excelled in the jumps. He won the Region 6-AAAAAAA title in the triple jump with a personal best of 43 feet, 8 inches, and also was first in the region in the long jump. His best in the long jump is 22-7, though he was hindered in the jumps at state by a heel injury he suffered at region. He still managed an eighth-place finish in the long jump.
“Track has helped him (in recruiting),” Lovelady said. “When (college coaches) find out he’s a track kid, they want to know his distances and times immediately. That’s helped him a lot. Everybody loved how he competed on the track. It showed his speed and explosiveness.”
He plans to compete in track and field again as a senior, with a goal of Edmond Graham’s school long jump record of 24-1.
“I like (track and field) because you really have to depend on yourself, work on yourself,” Wroble said. “If you don’t perform well, it’s on you.”
The Mill Creek coaches have been pleased with his performances in both sports, and those highlights in competitions have fueled his recruiting process. More college offers are expected in the coming months as he pares down his favorites.
“I want to go somewhere I feel wanted, not somewhere where I want to go and I’m pushing to go,” Wroble said. “I want the college to want me.”