Parker playing beyond his years

Parker playing beyond his years

When the 2012 season began, Middle Tennessee looked to be stacked at running back. With Benny Cunningham, Jeremiah Bryson, William Pratcher and Drayton Calhoun vying for playing time, folks didn't expect to see a whole lot of Jordan Parker. Fast forward just a few months and now fans can't wait to see what he's going to do next.

When Middle Tennessee took the field in the 2012 opener, Jordan Parker was the third running back on the depth chart. He rushed the ball nine times for 39 yards and added a reception for a loss of two. When the Blue Raiders returned to action the next week, Parker found himself at second on the depth chart. He rushed the ball 17 times for 117 yards. Since then, he's set the record for longest run in team history, most rushing yards by a freshman back and has put together three straight 100-yard games.

The door was opened to Parker's breakout season in the most unfortunate of ways … an injury to Cunningham. When Benny went down, Middle Tennessee fans were right to be concerned with how the team would make up for his lost production – he had 600 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in only five games when he was lost for the season.

In the first game since losing their senior leader, the Blue Raider offense was shut down completely. Granted, that was against a Mississippi State team that was ranked twelfth in the country. Parker had a respectable game, putting up 84 total yards of offense. He then found the endzone for the first time in his career the next week against Florida International – even though he only rushed for 55 yards in the game.

Since combining for a total of 111 rushing yards in his first two games as a starter, Parker has cemented himself as one of the most promising players in the Sun Belt. Over the last three weeks, he's averaged 148 rushing yards per game and has found the endzone two more times – including a 98 yard run against Troy on Saturday.

Oh yeah … and he's averaging a staggering 5.92 yards per carry and hasn't fumbled the ball once since taking over at starter. Not too bad.

All in all, Parker has been more than just a replacement player for Middle Tennessee this season. His consistent performance combined with Logan Kilgore's maturation as a quarterback have helped the Blue Raiders to a +12 turnover margin on the season – which has been the biggest factor in Middle's recent winning streak.

With one game to go in the regular season and a bowl game a very likely possibility, Parker is only 222 yards away from becoming Middle Tennessee's first 1,000 yard rusher since 2002 – and becoming the first freshman in program history to achieve that mark.

Whether he's able to get to 1,000 yards or not, Parker has already put together one of the best freshman campaigns in Blue Raider history and he's done it with limited snaps. That should have Middle Tennessee fans itching to see what this kid has in store during the next three seasons. I know that's the case for this writer anyway.

Stay tuned to BlueRaiderZone.com for more on Jordan and the rest of the Blue Raider football team in the coming weeks!

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