Oakmont grad headed to Fresno State
The long, hot summer practices. The blood, the sweat, the tears. All of the long hours Namani Parker has put into the game of football — it’s all paying off.
The 2014 Oakmont High graduate announced this week he’s committed to Fresno State University — a Division I, FBS program — where he will continue his collegiate football career next fall as a redshirt junior.
Parker, a 6-foot-4 receiver who helped American River College reach the 2016 CCCAA football State Championship game in December, will join 13 other commits as part of the Bulldogs 2017 recruiting class.
“For me, it’s a great fit,” Parker admitted. “Coach always talks about the fit of a program, and the school, the coaches, the program — I just felt really comfortable on campus, speaking with everyone and I’m excited to continue my career at Fresno State.”
After a very successful redshirt-sophomore season with the Beavers, Parker approached the offseason with a scholarship in mind. His journey took him to central California, where he had an unofficial visit last weekend at Fresno State. He committed shortly after returning to Roseville.
“I think the world of Namani,” ARC’s football coach Jon Osterhout confessed. “He could have gone anywhere in the nation — PAC-12, Mountain West, Big Sky, anywhere. Scouts that have come through here, they know where I stand with Namani Parker because of what he stands for. I can’t say this for everybody, but he’s certainly one of those guys that I have the utmost respect for in terms of his workload and demeanor and the way he conducts himself.”
Although he didn’t entertain a lot of offers out of ARC, Osterhout believes that could be due to fit over talent, suggesting teams may have been seeking a smaller, inside slot receiver or kick return specialist to fill their recruiting class.
“He’s done an unbelievable job preparing for this jump and I can’t imagine him not having an unbelievable career at Fresno State,” Osterhout acknowledged. “I think a lot of people are going to realize they missed the boat on him — I firmly believe that.
“During spring ball, he’s out there grinding and working and two or three hundred scouts are passing through and I’m pointing him out and they’re loving what they’re seeing. But sometimes it comes down to fit, or is there a roster spot available. Are they looking for a perimeter guy with a huge catch radius and good speed?”
At 6-4, 195 pounds, Parker has more height than a prototypical Division I wide receiver without compromising much speed.
When he opens up his stride and goes deep, very few defensive backs are able to keep up and defend the pass. That much became clear at ARC as Parker racked up 494 yards and a team-high five scores last year with the Beavers while hauling in a team-best 34 receptions.
“To me he’s a big-time value pick because he’s going to bring a tremendous work ethic and a professional approach every day to the facility,” Osterhout added.
In high school, Parker registered his most productive season as a senior as he tallied 33 catches for 565 yards and four scores. That includes a 17.1 yards-per-catch average, and he did it while sharing the workload with two other productive wideouts.
“We’re so happy for him,” said Tim Moore, Parker’s former coach at Oakmont High. “He’s one of our school’s great receivers. We were very fortunate to have Namani, Justin Holmes and Trey Olsen catching balls for us back in the day. All three have proven to be legitimate D1 players.”
While Holmes made the jump to San Jose State and Olsen continued his gridiron career in Annapolis for the Naval Academy, Parker spent three seasons at American River College before reaching the Division I level, but he can still recall those days.
“We had a blast during our senior year,” Parker said. “We all just loved the game of football and worked really hard to get where we are now. It was really fun to compete with them and that was a special season for us.”
During the upcoming season, Parker will get the chance to take the field against Holmes when the Bulldogs take on league foe San Jose State (TBA), and a pair of former teammates in Oakmont alum Derrick Achayo and ARC grad Anthony Luke when Fresno State faces San Diego State (TBA).
“The number one redeeming quality in regards to Namani was the value he brought to the program during his time here,” Osterhout confessed. “He was a tremendous leader by example, I mean phenomenal. I’ve been coaching 16 years and he’s one of the best I’ve been around.”
Parker will surely be missed at ARC next season, but he will now look ahead to a promising career at the Division I level. The Roseville native plans on majoring in communications when he gets to Fresno State in the fall.
“Give Fresno State credit — they did a lot of homework, they did a great job and they got the right guy,” Osterhout added. “That’s for darn sure.”