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June 26, 2013

No ‘Quick’ road to success

Lowell Ullrich
The Province

It probably would have been preferable if Keynan Parker could have walked into the meeting room of the BC Lions like every other rookie, just trying to fit in on his first day at work, but the newest member of the CFL team had no chance.

It’s a little tough to escape notoriety when there happens to be a picture of your dad on one of the walls, immortalized as one of the greatest pass-rushers in Lions history.
 
James (Quick) Parker, who had 26.5 sacks in 1984 with the Lions and set a league record that has survived challenges from Cam Wake and every other CFL defensive lineman for the last 29 years, had not yet become a father to the son who hopes to continue a family tradition at the Surrey facility.
 
Nonetheless, the next generation of players who have been glancing at Parker’s picture in meetings daily didn’t have to be told about his son’s upbringing when he arrived Tuesday.

It means there’s more than the obvious challenge for Parker of trying to find his way eventually into the defensive secondary and on special teams of the Lions.

Parker’s fledgling career has already had a setback familiar to all but a few Canadian college draft picks. A sixth-round pick in 2012, the rookie was cut Sunday by the Montreal Alouettes, not able to beat out unrelated namesake Byron Parker among others after only three weeks of his first pro camp. Getting cut was nothing to Keynan’s dad, though. The most dangerous BC rush end of his day was cut four times, counting his time with the Lions and Edmonton, and as his son pointed out, things ended rather well.

“He got cut and ended up going to the Hall of Fame,” Kenyan said. “I am probably going to have a few bumps. I know success isn’t going to come my way immediately, but I know if I keep working, I feel it’ll happen for me.”

And it’ll undoubtedly happen faster now that the idea of playing on both sides of the ball has been finally put to rest.

He was a sprinter in high school at St. Thomas More, and was a dominant running back there, too. A 2008 member of The Province’s Head of the Class, Parker thought he could be a two-way player at Oregon State and also when he transferred last year to SFU.

“At first, I was thinking about it too much. You got to put it aside,” he said. “I got to the realization I’m a defensive player. By the fifth game (last year at SFU), I sunk my teeth into it and haven’t looked back.”

Parker’s speed as a former BC high school 100-and 200-metre champion continues to tease teams like the Als, who searched for ways to keep the New Westminster product even after cutting him last weekend.

It’s the 5-foot-11, 183-pound size of the Lions newcomer which will pose an issue, though what Parker may lack in stature was replaced by his aggressiveness at first glance.

“I haven’t had much time to evaluate him, but he was competing, getting up in the face of the starters,” said coach Mike Benevides, who may finally have landed an STM product missed by the Lions previously when they didn’t draft Jon Cornish or Calvin McCarty.

“He’s got some length.” He’s also got a bit of time. Parker won’t be added to the practice roster until next week, and if there’s any signs of progress, he’ll be groomed to possibly move in at safety, where the Lions have committed to a non-import yet haven’t developed options to starter J.R. LaRose.

But the Lions say they will evaluate Parker on his own merit and avoid the temptation of making comparisons along family bloodlines, which is a good thing for a player who has spent way more time in four-down football than what he must now learn.

It still won’t stop the family questions from new teammates though.

“I walk in and (teammates) are like, ‘you’re Quick’s son,’ ” Quick Junior said. “Everybody was already on me.”

More questions are inevitable as long as his dad’s terrorizing presence continues to be visible.