Parker Douglass already a legend? Indeed he is

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

At the Sept. 29 SDSU football game against Stephan F. Austin, I asked a fellow reporter, “Didn’t Adam Vinatieri go to Parker Douglass’s college?”

The question went without an answer except for a smile and shake of the head, indicating the question was not to be returned with an honest answer. I personally thought it was a decent question.

I mean no disrespect to Mr. Vinatieri. He was a great kicker at SDSU, an All-American punter in 1994, a distinguished alumnus of SDSU in 2006 and a four-time Super Bowl winner. He will be in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and is the most clutch kicker in NFL history. When he does land in Canton he will join Jan (what a name for a football player) Stenerud to be the only place-kickers enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame.

With that being said, the current kicker for SDSU is pretty good, too.

Imagine if you would that college football was the highest level a young man could reach. Then my question to my fellow reporter would hold as much water as the Atlantic Ocean.

I am sure if I went to Chattanooga, Tenn., and ask, “What do you think of Parker Douglass?” They would probably reply back “Parke ‘a who?”

More than likely people in Oregon and the Northwest would not be very knowledgeable about the kicker from Columbus, Neb., either.

Although nationally unknown, the pre-season All-American is well- known around Brookings and the state.

“I just try to do whatever I can to help the team out,” Douglass said.

Humble or not, Douglass will be remembered as one of the greatest kickers in SDSU history, and perhaps the greatest of all time.

He already has 14 more field goals (58) in a career than any other kicker in SDSU history, which is twice as many balls crossing through the goal post as Vinatieri (27) had in his collegiate career. The 2005 Division II-All-American has already broken 18 of the possible 21 records for SDSU. Among them are longest field goal, 57 yards (which was previously owned by Douglass), consecutive made, 12 (dating back to this season, and part of last season), and most extra points attempted in a career (109). Douglass has only missed one extra point in his career at SDSU.

While Douglass is tied with two other SDSU kickers for best percentage in a season, he should own the record out right, since he hit more field goals (29-of-29, compared to 28-of-28 Tony Harris, 1979, and 21-of-21 Russ Meier, 1981).

The Douglass effect is much greater than the events happening in the record book.

“He is one of the guys, and that is a hard thing for a kicker,” said head football coach John Stiegelmeier. I guess being perfect on the season does that for a kicker (12-12).

The neat thing about Douglass is he does not just help the special teams by having touchbacks and making the kickoff job that much easier. He also helps the defense by pinning the opposition deep in their territory. That way opposing teams must go 80 yards to make a touchdown, which makes Justin Kubesh and the defense’s job that much easier.

“Parker’s ability to kick touchbacks helps us win the field position battle,” Kubesh said. “It gives the opposing offense a longer field, and it is one less opportunity that they have to make a big play. Parker is a huge asset to our defense.”

The two time Great West Special Teams player of the week has also helped the offense with his service. Say for example the ball is on SDSU’s 32-yard line, and it’s three and 11. Ryan Berry and the offense do not need to go for the first down with a risky play. All they need is to hand it off to Cory Koenig or Kyle Minett, get the ball to the middle and let Douglass put three points on the board.

“We used to say kick it, but now we say make it,” said Stiegelmeier. “We are a little cocky.”

When he made his record kick last Saturday (consecutive field goals, 12, and longest field goal, 57 yards) he did not pull a Bill Gramatica (see dumb injuries) and celebrate in dramatic fashion. Instead he slapped hands and patted the butts of the “fat guys” (offensive line), as coach Stiegelmeier says. Many of the same guys patted him on the helmet and celebrated the kicker’s achievement.

Douglass is approaching two additional records which, if this season continues, he will achieve and set all but one place-kicker record in SDSU history. Douglass will not touch Vinatieri’s record of 114 field goal attempts; Douglass has only 79 career attempts.

Douglass is also on pace to break the percentage record at SDSU for a kicker in a single season (currently at .823,12-12 by Brett Gorden in 1995). He is close to breaking the percentage career field goals mark. Douglass has a .709 mark, and the current mark is .693, set by Tony Harris, 1979-1980 (23-33) and K.C. Johnson, 1984-1986 (23-33).

The real test will come on April 26-27 when the NFL Draft takes place; that will truly define Douglass’ legacy and professional career. The last two years, only five-place kickers have been drafted, with three being drafted in 2007 and only two in 2006. No kicker, in 2008 or any other year, will be on the top of any teams draft board. This has not stopped NFL teams calling Douglass to compete for his services.

The kicker realized that with time his achievements would mean more to him.

“These school records are nice,” Douglass said, “and I’m sure they will mean a lot more to me when I look back and take some time to really think about them, especially since Brett Gorden and Adam Vinatieri were and are such great kickers.”

But he does not lose vision on what is most important. “I would definitely give those records up for a Great West Championship,” Douglass said. “This is a team sport, and individual records don’t come close to the importance of team records in my mind.”

So while Douglass will not overtake Vinatieri’s popularity any time soon, the current kicker is pretty darn good, too.