Mike Braun used to tell his friends stories about people who jumped out of airplanes without parachutes and survived.
The moral of it all? Have a backup plan.
So when his second youngest son, Parker, was deciding on which school he wanted to attend, Mike made sure he had a parachute.
“Even as good as you are, even if you’re a dead lock — if you’re a Jadeveon Clowney — a dead lock for the NFL, you have to have a good grounding in something,” said his father, who coaches him on the offensive line at Hallsville High School in Texas.
Over the weekend, Parker, who held over 20 offers, found his parachute in Georgia Tech. He chose the Yellow Jackets over schools such as Duke, Miami, Stanford, UGA and Rice. The 3-star offensive lineman follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Trey, who plays guard for Georgia Tech.
“The biggest thing, with my brother being there, I knew the campus, I knew the coaches, and I liked every aspect of it,” Parker told the AJC. “But the biggest thing that sold me on it was, I moved to Hallsville High School, which runs more of like a zone, a spread-type offense, and I came from Osceola, where we ran the triple option.
“So, the style of offensive line play was so different. We do a lot of pass blocking and a lot of kick-step and pounding (at Hallsville). That’s what really sold me on (Georgia Tech). I want to be blasting off and hitting linebackers and down-blocking and that kind of thing.”
According to his father, though, there was never a clear-cut No. 2 school because his son was interested in several. Parker yielded offers from many academically inclined schools that offered him a chance to learn under reputable offensive line coaches.
The decision wasn’t easy.
“You tell me,” his father said, “should you go to Stanford, should you go to Duke, should you go to Georgia Tech, should you go to Miami? At some point, I don’t know. There are good things about all of them.”
His father says they were high on Duke and offensive line coach John Latina. Parker gave Miami and Rice a good look, too, making the decision an even more difficult one. He says Parker may have considered the Hurricanes more had the family stayed in Osceola, Fla., where he played football until his senior year.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Parker even approached his father seeking his opinion on how each program would utilize his strengths. After all, he’s played primarily in an either flexbone or Wing-T offense.
“He said, ‘I don’t know if I want to kick-step for the next five years’,” his father said. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s a great question. You have to ask these guys what they see you doing and figure out if you can do it for five years.’”
“You have to like your job.”
The 6-foot-3, 275-pounder considered all of his options, including a few programs in Texas for his parents’ sake, but he was sold on Georgia Tech and offensive line coach Mike Sewak’s vision.
“He felt like he wanted to be a run-first guy,” his father said. “He really wanted to do what Sewak was telling him he wanted to do for him.”
With Sewak came familiarity, too. Parker had an insider’s view given his time around the Georgia Tech facilities. He knew what he was getting into, how he was going to be coached and what to expect in his development.
It also helps that Sewak’s coaching style mirrors that of his father’s: old school and rugged.
“If anything, Trey being at Georgia Tech helped Parker create a relationship and a comfort level with coach Sewak,” his father said.
Parker is the third commit on the Georgia Tech offensive line in the class of 2016.