Parker aims for breakout sophomore year

Stamps receiver Anthony Parker is one of the team's next generation of pass-catchers. (REUTERS)

Stamps receiver Anthony Parker is one of the team's next generation of pass-catchers. (REUTERS)

SCOTT FISHER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:51 PM ET

Johnny Forzani laid down the blueprint.

 

Anthony Parker has picked it up and is committing it to memory.

Forzani enjoyed a spectacular breakout campaign in 2011, piling up 761 yards on 45 receptions in his second season with the Calgary Stampeders.

Parker hopes to follow in his fellow Canadian’s footsteps in his sophomore campaign.

“It’s always great to see a story like that,” Parker said of Forzani’s season.

“He came in that first year and had some troubles with injuries. But he was able to come out in his second year and have a breakout year.

“When I think about my situation, I was more fortunate in the injury regard, so I was able to play a little more in my first year.”

Parker grabbed a half-dozen balls worth 89 yards of real estate last season. That might not sound like much, but it’s double what Forzani had as a freshman.

If he can approach the massive strides Forzani made in 2011, Parker will kick-start a CFL career that many expect could be productive.

“My expectation this year is to be a bigger part of our offence,” Parker said. “And I want to continue to do the things I was doing on special teams and improve a bit.

“I want to make some catches, take advantage of the opportunities when the ball comes to me.”

Parker, who starred at the University of Calgary before being picked third-overall by the Stamps in last year’s draft, said he has to be mentally sharp because there is no margin for error every time he takes the field.

“We’re so deep at receiver right now,” Parker said. “We’ve got 14 or 15 guys at camp. You only get a certain amount of reps, so you have to take advantage of them.

“If the ball’s not thrown to you, you have to do things that are going to make you look good on film. And hopefully, that gives you an opportunity to get into the lineup.”

Part of what keeps the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder in the lineup is his contribution on special teams.

As one of the top receivers in the CIS, Parker was not required to play special teams, so this is a whole new ballgame for him.

“I did a little bit in my first year (at the U of C),” he said. “But then my coach said, ‘That’s enough of that. We don’t need you getting hurt on special teams.’

“So it was a big adjustment last year getting used to the special teams.

“It was a good time. I really enjoyed it, but it was definitely a steep learning curve.”

Parker even collected an interception on special teams last September when the B.C. Lions attempted a fake punt. It’s plays like that which showcase the 22-year-old’s raw skills.

Now, he wants to make a bigger impact on offence alongside his boyhood idols.

“When I was young, I looked up to guys who are on the Stamps now — Ken-Yon (Rambo) and Nik (Lewis),” the Okotoks product said.

“Being a hometown kid, I grew up watching the Stamps a lot.

“It’s definitely weird — having watched these guys for eight, nine years. It was weird to come in and play alongside them, but it’s been a cool experience.”

Parker was only a few months old when his dad, Anthony Sr., played running back for the Stamps in 1990.

But he certainly got used to McMahon Stadium as a fan and then as a player with the Dinos.

“I’ve been playing here for years,” he said. “I’m at ease when I’m here, for what it’s worth, because everything’s familiar. I think that helped me get into a groove.”

 


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