When William Parks attended Germantown High School, he was known as a leader in the classroom and on the football field. Considering that the school closed a year after Parks’ 2012 graduation, he fills the role of the last great athlete to graduate from the 99-year-old institution.
Locally, he was a standout who played cornerback, wide receiver, running back and kick returner for the Germantown Bears. His former coach, Michael Hawkins, even compared him to a player on the Eagles at the time in saying Parks was “a shut-down corner and a big hitter, too, not an Asante Samuel.”
Now entering his senior year at the University of Arizona, the acclaimed safety finds himself under consideration for the Maxwell Club’s prestigious Chuck Bednarik Award, annually presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year.
“It’s a humbling experience. I was telling my dad about it and he said I can use that as motivation now that people are realizing what I can do on the field,” he said. “He told me to go out and not just do good things, but great things, to have a season like no one thought you could ever have. It’s time to work even harder because you’re starting to make a name for yourself.”
Parks said he didn’t see the news coming. In fact, it surprised him, but he was ecstatic nonetheless. It also translates into something that could inspire Public League football players and young folks in their communities.
“I hope they take it as a sign that you can always do something better with your life, and that goes beyond just football,” he said. “I’m from those neighborhoods so [I can be an example] of what you can do, to be different, to stand out. I used football as a way to try and make life better for me and my family. They can too.”
From here, Parks will learn whether he’s one of three finalists (out of 78 on the watch list) for the award in November and whether he won a month later, with the formal presentation scheduled next March at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala in Atlantic City.
Previous winners include LaVar Arrington of Penn State and current All-Pro NFL lineman Ndamukong Suh.