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This is the final installment of a four-part series consisting of interviews with University of Iowa football assistant coaches. I asked them if, in their travels into schools and neighborhoods while recruiting, they noticed changes in kids and communities. We proceeded from there.
To find the comments of Iowa assistants Bobby Kennedy, LeVar Woods and Brian Ferentz, click here.
Phil Parker, 53, is in his 18th season on the Hawkeyes’ staff, having been the defensive backs coach the entire time and the defensive coordinator since 2012. Before that, he was defensive backs coach at Toledo for 11 seasons.
Parker on kids and recruiting:
“Things have changed. There’s all these camps, kids have opportunities to show their skills. In turn, it’s created a big mess of third-party people sometimes getting involved. I think it’s good for kids, but sometimes I think it gets out of control a little bit. People drive their kids all over the place. If they just play high school football the scouts will find the kids, whether you’re at Ohio State or Indiana or Michigan State or Iowa, somebody’s going to be in. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, somebody’s going to find you if you’re a good football player.
“It’s kind of getting away from the high school. ... It’s always about ‘Hey, I’m over here at this tournament.’ It’s like free agents and everybody’s all over. How many scholarships can I get stacked up when you can only take one.
“That’s where I think you’ve got to find the kids that maybe aren’t all tied up in that, that football is more important than — that it means something to them. It’s not about retweets or social media, stuff like that. It’s really sad to see the way it’s going. But there’s still some kids out there that have a passion for the game. We like to find those guys.
“You start (by) building a relationship with high school coaches. A lot of these coaches are a big part of what these kids’ families are, what they do and where they go and whether they can get a ride to go to camp or go see a visit. So a lot of these high school coaches have a lot more on their plate than just coaching and teaching. They’re actually a basic Uber service, taking them around to different places to make sure their kids have opportunities to get out there and be seen.
“Usually, you’ve got to trust the coaches and you’ve got to find the information about the kids. I think there’s a lot of young, good coaches out there all over the place (in high schools). They’re doing the same thing we’re doing here. We want the best for our kids here and try to get them to get them to play at the highest level here and make sure they earn their degree that they can go out and be successful. I think the high school coaches want the same thing.
“Some guys might not have anybody in their lives and some guys might have a whole bunch of people. It’s like almost every situation is different. … Some kids, you wonder how they’ve made it, how’d they get through. Some of them, can they make it because everything’s given to them. It goes from one extreme to the other where a kid doesn’t have anything to maybe a kid who has everything.
“You’ve got to do your homework. You’ve got to make sure you do a lot of investigating and see how he competes, what his goals are. That’s all part of the process of trying to find as many people and touch as many people that know him so you can find that information. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes we don’t find that information until it’s too late.”
“My whole goal is to help kids out, not only to in football to be the best football player he can be, but also the best person they can be.”