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Parker still throwing weight around

Ex-Eagle athlete was key member of 1990 title team

Matt Parker is one old Eagle who has learned how to throw his weight around.

The 1991 Lawton Eisenhower High School graduate serves Texas Christian University as Associate Head Coach Strength and Conditioning. His primary duties are with the Horned Frogs' football team, but he also works with the rifle and equestrian squads.

Not the horses; just the riders.

"I get asked that a lot," Parker laughed.

Parker was the starting nose guard on the 1990 Eisenhower football team that posted a 14-0 record and won USA Today's mythical National championship. He spent three semesters at Oklahoma State before transferring to Northeastern A&M Junior College.

He admits a grade issue played into the decision to leave Stillwater.

"I wasn't ready to be out on my own," Parker said. "I was still pretty immature."It was a good decision. NEO lost just one game in 1993 and defeated Butler County in a wild 52-50 scramble to win the Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo.

Parker earned All-America honors and caught the attention of several major Division I programs. He signed with Alabama after originally committing to Arizona.

He also made the Dean's List.

The Tide enjoyed two good seasons. After going 12-1 and winning the Citrus Bowl in 1994, the '95 squad went 8-3 and was not eligible for postseason play.

Parker was a two-year starter. He was not selected in the NFL Draft and signed as a free agent with San Diego. He made it to the last cut, then reported to Denver in 1997. Back issues convinced him to give up pro aspirations and Parker returned to Alabama to complete work on his degree.

"I kinda helped out in the weight room and knew what I wanted to do," he said.

He also tried coaching, working at NEO as a defensive line coach and strength and conditioning coach for two years.

The next stop was a return to Alabama in the strength and conditioning program. Tide coaches during that five-year stay were Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Price and Mike Shula.

During his time in San Diego, Parker met former Missouri gridder Pat Ivy. He introduced Matt to Don Sommer, one-time Mizzou strength coach who was headed for TCU.

That was 14 years ago. Sommer hired Parker and is still his boss.

The duo has worked as a unit for 12 bowl games. They were in the Houston Bowl in 2005, Poinsettia Bowl in '06, '08 and '11, the Texas Bowl in '07, the Fiesta in '09, Rose Bowl in '10, Buffalo Wild Wings in '12, Peach Bowl in '14, Alamo Bowl in '15 and '17 and the Liberty Bowl in '16.

The Horned Frogs' record in those 12 games is 9-3.

Picking the favorite was a no-brainer.

"The Rose Bowl," Parker said of time spent in Pasadena. "That's hard to beat. We played Wisconsin, beat them (21-19).

"It's a fun trip."

The fun began at Lawton Eisenhower. After an undefeated junior high season in 1987, Parker and his fellow sophomores advanced to the high school program just as Tim Reynolds was named head coach.

The '88 Eagles caught fire late and advanced to the state finals before losing a 31-27 decision to Midwest City and its fine quarterback, Cale Gundy.

"We got beat on a pass interference call," Parker laughed.

Was it a ghost call?

"Oh yeah, of course," he said. "It had to be, didn't it?

"We were fortunate to have a lot of good leaders ñ  Kevin Crutchmer, Brian Lewis and all those guys.

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