A hurricane of speculation has spun around Kyle Parker's baseball future and its ramifications on Clemson football, but what of his ceiling as a quarterback?
Parker is playing in his third college baseball season, but has played only 14 games as a Division I quarterback.
As a baseball prospect, scouts project him as a corner outfielder with 20-25 home run power. As a pro football quarterback one could argue his potential might be greater.
Statistical analysis by The Post and Courier indicates Parker might be on a career arc similar to former Texas star Colt McCoy and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
If Parker builds upon his freshman All-American campaign by improving at the same rate as those comparable quarterbacks did as sophomores, Parker's 2010 football line projects to 267 of 461 passing for 3,333 yards, 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Of 2009's top-rated quarterbacks who started earlier in their careers as freshmen, only Clausen, McCoy, N.C. State's Russell Wilson and Miami's Jacory Harris threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in their sophomore seasons against power conferences competition.
Statistically, Parker had a better freshman season than Clausen and Harris and was similar to McCoy, who like Parker, is undersized.
Tools wise, Parker is pro caliber.
Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Carl Smith worked with Parker in high school. Smith said Parker has an arm equal to the quarterbacks at the recent NFL Combine.
"Parker fits in with that group," Smith said. "Kyle Parker has plenty of arm. Drew Brees kind of gave new life to all the 6-foot quarterbacks, at least in the NFL. ... Parker has enough (strength) to withstand tackling. Kyle is a guy who is a natural passer that can do some things with his feet. Kyle can sit in the pocket, too.
"One of the things Kyle's got, I don't know if you could teach it, Kyle has spatial instincts. He knows when he can get it there ... He can turn it loose in a heartbeat."
Does he see a scenario in which Parker gives up football in 2010?
"I know it would be hard for Kyle," Smith said. "He loves it, he's good at it."
Whether or not Parker attempts 461 passes next fall as predicted is dependent upon a number of variables, but on average, the comparable passers threw 25 percent more pass attempts as sophomores. They earned more playing time, more trust from their coaches, and enjoyed a better command of their offenses.
As a group in their sophomore seasons they cut their interception rate from 3.2 to 2.9 percent, while increasing their touchdown rate from 4.8 to 5.7 percent and yards per pass attempt from 6.93 to 7.23.
Applying those improvements and increased attempts to Parker's 2010 performance of 205 of 369 passing for 2,526 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions results in nearly 30 touchdowns while easily surpassing 3,000 yards passing.
Whether he can produce such a season, or if Parker even remains on campus, is yet to be determined, but Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said players often make significant improvement between their freshman and sophomore seasons.
"I really believe the kid has untapped potential in terms of the way he played down the stretch," Napier said. "Now that he has played 14 games and been through a season, I think his best football is ahead of him. He knows how to prepare. He'll be a little less stressed and a little more focused on what's relevant to him playing well on Saturday."
Parker's football future is so promising Baseball America analyst Aaron Fitt questions whether a Major League team would be willing to buy Parker out of football. Several weeks ago, Fitt said Parker was receiving first-round consideration.
"It sure seems like he's going to come back and play football next year," Fitt said. "At this point it would take a lot of money to buy him out. I think the prevailing sentiment out there is that he is going to come back and play."
Still, there are no guarantees Parker will be back.
Parker's father Carl, a former NFL player, said there are so many scenarios in play the picture won't become clearer until after the baseball draft.
While it would be difficult for Parker to pass on playing quarterback, it would also be difficult to pass on first-round slot money for baseball.
"If there's a life-changing opportunity right now, why wait on another one?" Carl Parker said. "A lot of (baseball) teams are probably scared away (by football). But look at Tim Tebow ... it doesn't take a lot of teams, it only takes one."
NFLdraftscout.com projects Parker as the No. 6 quarterback in the 2013 class.
If Parker progresses he could become the next Clausen or McCoy and become the third or fourth quarterback selected.
Clausen was taken 38th overall last week as the third quarterback selected, McCoy was selected 85th overall as the fourth quarterback in the NFL draft.
The 38th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Rey Maualuga, received $2.9 million guaranteed. The 85th overall pick, Ramses Barden, received a $731,156 bonus.
The signing bonus for the 38th overall pick in the NFL draft -- possibly the best-case scenario for Parker as a quarterback -- is similar to an early first-round bonus in baseball.
The NFL's 85th overall pick is compensated similarly to second or third round pick baseball, though teams often sign player above slot money, including three Clemson pitchers from last season: Chris Dwyer received $1.4 million from Kansas City in the fourth round, signee Madison Younginer agreed to $975,000 bonus as a seventh round pick by Boston, and Graham Stoneburner signed for $675,000 as a 14th round pick by the Yankees.
For Clemson the future of the quarterback position remains a promising, wait-and-see proposition.
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