Patrick Nix grew up in Alabama, played quarterback at Auburn in the 1990s and has a son, Bo, who also became a Tigers’ starting quarterback before transferring to Oregon this past winter.
Now, as the man in charge at Central Phenix City High School in Phenix, Alabama, Nix is the head coach of the first high school football player from the state to commit to Penn State since 2014.
Although Alabama’s best high school talent doesn’t generally pick Penn State, Nix wasn’t surprised by Parker’s decision, aside from it coming so soon after Parker went on his official visit this past weekend.
Nix said he knew of Parker’s plan the day before the commitment became public.
“We didn’t know exactly where he was going to go,” Nix told Nittany Sports Now, “and I don’t know that he knew exactly where he was going to go until after the visit. He visited a lot of different places and talked to a lot of different places. So we knew that he was very open to a lot of different places in the country, not just the south and not just the SEC.”
Nix has coached Parker (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) for two seasons.
Upon beginning to coach him in 2020, Nix noticed Parker’s “relentless” effort right away and feels that a lot of his success at Central-Phenix has been due to his work ethic and the natural physical progression of a high school athlete.
“He’s gotten bigger and stronger,” Nix said. “Faster. I think that he’s worked extremely hard on his craft as far as taking on blocks, getting off blocks, whether it be in the run game or pass game. He takes a lot of pride in working at that, not just relying on ability.”
So what role would suit Parker best at the next level?
In his scouting report posted in December, 247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Cooper Petanga wrote that Parker “projects to a pass-rushing edge role in a 3-4 and with his hand in the dirt as a five-technique in a 4-3 defense.”
Petanga also wrote that Parker’s projected position “will be heavily dependent on the defensive scheme.”
For Nix, Parker can excel in multiple facets.
“He can rush the passer (Parker had 15 sacks in 2021), and that’d be good, but he can also take on a tight end, a tackle in the run game blocking, that kind of stuff,” Nix said. “So I think he can play either edge, either side, whether you want him over a tight end or to a rush end, whatever it may be.”
Did he have 15 sacks?
Naturally, many of Parker’s best plays from his high school career thus far as captured on his HUDL highlights.
For Nix, however, people who know of Parker primarily from those tapes and from recruiting website rankings might not realize how physical he is.
“Watching tape, it’s a lot more attractive to put sacks on there and running by people and all that,” he said. “But I think he’s a lot more physical than people realize.”
Overall, Nix describes his star player as a “great person” off the field in addition to havingd tremendous ability on it.
“Very personable,” Nix said. “Very good worker, very competitive on the field. Very athletic. Very powerful. Very physical.”