Source: Mitch Sherman/ESPN.Com
Highly touted University of Oklahoma incoming recruit Steven Parker, II is a 6-foot-2, 175-pound safety out of Jenks (Okla.) High School. Steven was that state’s player of the year by the Tulsa World, starred in the 6A state championship game in December, leading Jenks to a 14-0 finish and second consecutive crown. In his final high school game, he caught five passes for 164 yards and intercepted a pass. After an intense recruiting battle, Steven picked the Sooners over Texas A&M and Auburn, and his decision refocuses light on his grandfather, Charles Parker.
Charles Parker was a pioneer, one of four black football players to walk on to coach Bud Wilkinson’s powerful Sooners team in September 1955, from segregated Dunjee High School on the east side of Oklahoma City. A 5-foot-11, 200-pound lineman built of “raw muscle” — according to Maurice Parker, the lone survivor of Charles’ five siblings — Charles suffered a head injury that November from a collision with the steel frame of a blocking sled. Parker and the others — George Farmer Jr., Frank Wilson Jr. and Sylvester Norwood — lasted in Wilkinson’s program less than four months. None appeared in a game, their story marks an important, yet largely unheralded, milestone in college football history. A year later, running back Prentice Gautt of Oklahoma City’s Douglass High School debuted at OU on the freshman squad. He eventually received a scholarship, the first for a black player at Oklahoma, and twice earned all-conference honors. Steven is well aware of his grandfather’s contribution stating ” Once he broke the chain, there were so many who followed…all African-Americans should thank people like my grandpa. He opened doors for a lot of people.”