His URI Career Ending, Aaron Parker Reflects, “I’ve Grown to Love it Here”

Aaron Parker – Photo Credit: Mike Scott

THE URI RAMS TAKE ON JAMES MADISON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23 AT 12PM ON YURVIEW, COX CHANNEL 4 IN RHODE ISLAND

A college football career can go by quickly – like a wide receiver making a beeline to the end zone.

To that point, URI football senior Aaron Parker finds himself fighting a battle he has no shot of winning. As someone who will go down as one of the top pass catchers in program history, not even Parker can apply enough separation to the vast array of emotions he will likely experience when the Rams close out the 2019 season this Saturday against No. 2 James Madison (12 p.m. kickoff).

For Parker, it will not only be his final home game at Meade Stadium but also the last time he will have the opportunity to wear a URI jersey. He will try to keep it all together during the pregame ceremony when he heads out to midfield to meet loved ones.

For Parker, last call awaits.

In a sit-down interview following Wednesday morning’s practice, Parker discussed life and football. Here’s what he had to say:

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Brendan McGair: While preparing for James Madison, have you taken the time to reflect on the past four years?

Aaron Parker: Right now it really hasn’t hit me, but it’s gone by so fast. I’m going out to practice every day knowing that it’s getting closer to be my last one here at URI. When I came through the door as a freshman [in the fall of 2016], it was a new environment that I had to adjust to. Back then, I used to call my mom and tell her I wanted to come back home, but Rhode Island grew on me. It’s a beautiful state and a beautiful university. I grew to love it here.

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BM: What is it going to be like to share the Senior Day stage with your mother Vivian and father Andre?

AP: It’s going to be emotional, especially for my mom. My dad was here and there in my life, but my mom, she raised me and my three siblings. Even though I have aspirations and dreams to keep playing at the next level, this is my last guaranteed football game. I owe it all to my mom. Come Saturday, I’m looking forward to giving it my best.

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BM: What’s the one aspect of playing football at Rhode Island that you have enjoyed the most?

AP: The brotherhood in the locker room. Just being around my boys every day … even when you’re down, they’ll always pick you up. It’s never been about bad vibes with them, never.

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BM: You will leave URI ranked second in career receptions (211 heading into Saturday) and receiving yards (3,394 with one game to go). Can you describe the hard work you put into becoming one of the most accomplished WRs in school history?

AP: I tell everyone that in the game of football, there’s no such thing as an offseason. Right after the season, you get a week or two off before jumping into winter training. After that, you get ready for spring ball. You just can’t do the mandatory work. You need to have a work ethic where you put in the extra work when you’re behind closed doors and no one is looking. It’s an effort thing where you judge yourself. When I first came here, I was 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. [He’s now listed at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds.] I was so skinny and saw that everyone else was so big. I realized I had to put on weight and get faster and stronger.

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Photo Credit: Brendan McGair

BM: Instead of heading home to Prince George’s County, Md. each summer, you chose to remain at URI in an effort to stay on top of your football craft. How big of a decision was that?

AP: I sacrificed my summers and stayed right here. During that time, it’s more of a mental thing. You’re carrying things over from the spring so that you’re fresh when training camp starts. I would go upstairs with my position coach and watch film … different techniques based on how the defensive back is looking to play you.

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BM: Who are some of the NFL wide receivers you keep an eye on come Sundays?

AP: One player I really like to watch is DeAndre Hopkins [via the Houston Texans]. I like to simulate my game after him. He’s not the biggest, nor the fastest or the strongest, but he competes on every down. When I go out there, I want to put my best foot forward.

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BM: How much have you embraced the ability to run crisp and precise routes?

AP: Ari Confesor, who was the receiver coach when I first got here, told me that playing quarterback in high school was going to help me as a college receiver. When I lined up at QB in high school, I was looking at the safeties and corners and saw where their eyes were. As a receiver, it was easy for me to pick up defenses and know where I’m supposed to be going based on the play that’s called.


BM: Come next May, you will graduate with a degree in criminal justice. How big of a feat is that?

AP: From where I’m from, it’s about being appreciative of the opportunity to come to an institution where there are all these connections and chances to network. It’s a blessing.

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BM: At 2-9 overall and 0-7 in the CAA, the season proved to be a far cry from the expectations and preseason buzz. Despite that, do you believe the program is in a much better and healthier spot than when you first came aboard?

AP: The season didn’t turn out the way we wanted and it’s unfortunate, but this senior class helped lay the foundation for the future. I believe that kids are going to come in with the same vision that I did. Let’s change this program around.

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BM: What’s going to be more difficult – the final walk-through practice on Friday morning or hearing the buzzer go off that signals the end of Saturday’s game and realizing your college career is now complete?

AP: Both are probably on the same level. The Friday practice, you’re with all your teammates … guys you’ve spent a lot of time with but realize you’ll soon be heading in different directions.

BM: You mentioned earlier about the aspirations you have to play at the next level. How quickly do you transition to getting ready in an effort to get noticed by pro scouts?

AP: After Saturday, I’ll use Thanksgiving week as a chance to let the body rest. I haven’t been able to sleep in; we’ve been waking up at 5:45 in the morning. I’ll get some good sleep, but it won’t be long before I start training like a pro, rehab like a pro, and watch film like a pro. When I get my chance to perform, I want to be at my best.

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BM: Could you see yourself coaching football if playing professionally doesn’t work out?

AP: I would love to come back and coach. It’s all about giving back to the community. Having a mentor, sometimes that’s the best thing for a kid. You’ve been in their shoes.

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BM: Outside of the university, what has been your favorite aspect of your adopted state over the past four years?

AP: Over the summer, I worked at Narragansett Town Beach as a security guard. The beaches are great, but being so close to Providence and Boston … I loved the transition I made to here from Maryland. I’ve enjoyed my life up here.

2019 YurView URI Football Broadcast Schedule:

  • Sept. 7 – Delaware, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 28 – Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 26 – Elon, 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 2 – Merrimack, 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 23 – James Madison, 12 p.m.