Growing up in Reserve, Louisiana, Antonio Parks lived five houses down from Arizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight.
An aspiring football player, Parks used to watch McKnight and his brother, Joe, star at John Curtis Christian High School in New Orleans and dominate the competition.
When Jonathan McKnight left Cajun country and headed to Arizona, Parks started watching UA games. Before he knew it, he was a full-on Wildcat fan.
Now, the three-star cornerback, who grew up wanting to be like McKnight on the field, will be a Wildcat.
Parks committed to Arizona on Friday afternoon, announcing his decision on Twitter. He picked the UA over Clemson. The corner also had offers from Purdue, Arizona State, Duke, Iowa State, Central Florida and others.
Arizona has long been in a good position with Parks, and felt strong about getting his commitment Friday.
“Of all the coaching staffs that pursued me, they were on me the most throughout the entire process,” Parks told the Star. “They came out to Louisiana in the spring and watched me, and offered me live. It wasn’t like they saw my tape or anything. They came out and saw what they liked and offered me.”
Parks visited the UA campus in late May, and after more than a month of deliberation, decided to pledge to Rich Rodriguez.
“Arizona has been a school I’ve been looking at for a long time because of Jonathan,” Parks said. “He got me interested, and then I saw the way they play and everything, and I really liked it all.”
Parks was invited to Nike’s The Opening football camp in Oregon, which starts today, and was going to announce his choice there. Instead, he had to stay back in Louisiana because of a family matter.
So instead of announcing on national television, Parks shared his decision with his nearly 2,000 Twitter followers.
“It was tight between Arizona and Clemson, but I just felt the most comfortable with coach Rodriguez and his staff,” Parks said.
Listed at 5 feet, 10 inches and 177 pounds, Parks has the size to play an outside corner spot for the Wildcats and also the speed to play inside in the slot. He said Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 defense intrigued him because of the five defensive backs.
Parks is the second Louisiana high school player to commit to Arizona in the 2015 class. Running back Orlando Bradford of Shreveport pledged in mid-June. Parks said he heard from Bradford via social media just minutes after he made his decision public.
With Parks on board, Arizona now has 16 known commitments for 2015. He’s the fourth defensive back of the class, joining Tucson High’s Demetrius Flannigan, Arizona Western safety Paul Magloire and Washington D.C. high school product Sammy Morrison.
The Wildcats will now turn their attention to five-star defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, who will choose between the UA and Tennessee at The Opening on Thursday.