We kicked off the series yesterday with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez as our 150th ranked player. Today, that train continues as we cruise into the ACC to check out our 149th-ranked athlete, Kevin Parks.
No. 149: Kevin Parks, RB, Virginia
Most folks have not heard of Parks, the diminutive running back who was the second-leading rusher for the Cavaliers in 2011. Parks put up 709 yards as the backup and led the team with nine rushing touchdowns, including one in the Chick-fil-A bowl against Auburn.
Parks is a real running back. I say that to mean he is not just a change-of-pace, or scat, back who comes into the game for third downs as we've seen players of his size do in the past. At 5'8" and 195 lbs., Kevin Parks is a young man capable of being a feature back. Parks hits the hole hard, he runs through arm tackles and he never shies away from contact. The kid has solid field vision, and at 5'8", he is tough to spot, so as he bursts through the hole, he is on top of defenders and ready to get to the next level.
To go along with this decent amount of power out of his small stature, Kevin Parks has got some wiggle to him. He's slippery, rarely gets hit hard and almost always falls forward. Those are all a positive, especially when they are wrapped up in such a small but explosive package.
The first and most glaring is Parks' height and size. He's a small human being in the realm of football. In his primary function, running the football, the height is not a tremendous issue, and his size-speed combo does allow him some advantages.
However, in his secondary functions, both issues come into play. As a blocker, Kevin Parks must continue to improve, and that is something that his size will continue to make a challenge. Attempting to chip and stop defensive ends and blitzing linebackers is not an easy task for the running back.
In the passing game, Parks still has a ways to go as well. He's a small target, and the Wahoos have not yet found a way to get the sophomore the ball in space to let him work. This spring, he and the Virginia offense must work on getting more touches on the edge.
As a whole, 2012 looks to be a good year for the Cavaliers. They are a team that is on the rise in the ACC's Coastal Division, and Kevin Parks is a part of this push. On the individual level, expect more production out of Parks heading into his second year on the field for the Hoos. Perry Jones will still be the starter, but Parks will have ample opportunity to grow thanks to Mike London's commitment to running the football.
Expect Kevin Parks to beat down the doors towards 1,000 yards this year, and if he can go from just 11 catches to more than 20, he can be a big factor for the Cavaliers' push towards the top of the Coastal.