It was the offer Bailey Parsons had been looking for and when he got it, he said yes.
“When I went there it was unlike any other place I had been. It was a place that I felt that I would fit in and that would do good things for me,” said Parsons, Gardendale’s rising senior tight end who recently made a verbal commitment to Stanford.
Parsons competed at Stanford’s junior day camp in March and liked what the Cardinal had to offer. The feeling was mutual. Stanford flew a coach 2,300 miles to watch one of Gardendale’s spring practices. Parsons says he received a scholarship offer during that practice and accepted it later that day.
“I went over and talked to Goose [Crowder] about it after I got the offer and I’m not going to lie, the next 15 minutes of practice was kind of a blur,” said Parsons. “Everybody found out and they were coming up, congratulating me and that was just a special time.”
He said that he has applied to Stanford University and if he gets accepted, ‘that will pretty much be it,’ in terms of his recruitment process. For him, receiving the academic acceptance letter would be just as exciting as the recent scholarship offer.
Parsons, a pass-catching tight end for the Rockets, would be going to Silicon Valley as a long snapper. He first began snapping as a way to earn playing time as a freshman at Gardendale and has since learned the small subtleties of the craft.
“I just figured it would be a good way to get on the field, just in case,” said Parsons of his decision to start snapping in ninth grade. “It’s like shooting a free throw in basketball because one little thing can throw it off and everybody knows when a long snapper messes up.”
Things don’t get any easier after the ball has been sent back and the punt has cleared.
“I mean, you still have to go down and tackle the punt returners which are nine times out of 10 the most athletic guy on the other team,” added Parsons, who has also excelled on the Rockets’ outdoor track and field team.
As a junior last season, he qualified for the Alabama High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Meet in two different events: javelin and shot put. He released a 12th-place throw in the javelin finals and placed 14th in shot put on May 2 in Gulf Shores. He also set a new school javelin record with a distance of 147-1 at the state meet in Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium.
His versatility makes him a valuable piece in Gardendale head football coach Chad Eads’ offense. Parsons has been know to split out as a slot receiver, but he expects to slide back into more of a tight end role next season with offensive coordinator Heath McCoy taking over for Rodney Bivens.
“Coach McCoy is putting in a new offense and I’m just trying to do what’s best so we can make a good run this season,” said Parsons.