By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Madison Central coach Bert Browne had to fight back his emotions as he spoke to the crowd gathered at the school’s library Wednesday to see Brandon Parks sign his national letter of intent.
It certainly was a moving moment for the player and his coach.
“Me and (Brandon) have been over here together very early for him to work out. I’d go pick him up just about every morning,” Browne said of Parks. “I’ve just seen his maturation, which is just awesome.”
All those early mornings and that extra effort paid off for the standout Madison Central senior defensive lineman.
On Wednesday, Parks signed to play football at Eastern Kentucky University. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior picked EKU over a long list of schools, including Morehead State.
“I knew that I was going to get to be home with my family,” Parks said. “So, I knew it was the best thing. I really liked their facilities and they said they are building on and they are going to continue to grow.”
Also on Wednesday, Central seniors Hunter Stocker (quarterback) and Jamez Chenault (linebacker) signed to play football at University of Pikeville.
Stocker and Chenault signed their national letters of intent during a ceremony in Pikeville.
In the past two seasons, Parks has emerged as a dominant force for the Central defense. The senior turned heads at a series of camps last summer, including a NFL High School Player Development Camp in Lexington. He was later invited to Indianapolis to take part in a national NFL camp.
On the field this past season, Parks was a game-changer. He finished with 48.5 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries, four fumble recoveries (one of which he returned for a touchdown) and a stunning six blocked kicks.
“He was a tall, skinny kid when I got here three years ago, now he 250 pounds and in college he will be able to carry 290 and look good doing it,” Browne said.
Parks played most at tackle in high school. At EKU he will likely move to defensive end.
“That’s what is going to excite me the most,” Parks said of the move to the outside. “Getting a chance to get that quarterback and just run free out there.”
Parks has developed into a physically imposing presence in the past few years. Extra work in the weight room helped the senior catch the attention of coaches from Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee, Indiana and Ball State.
“There’s no question. He is a Division I defensive lineman,” Browne said.
Following his senior season, Parks took part in two all-star games. He was named the Defensive MVP of the Best of the Bluegrass Bowl in December and then also played in the Kentucky-Tennessee Border Bowl last month.
Parks will likely redshirt next season — as most incoming freshman are asked to do at EKU — but he says he’s ready to get to work.
“I’m excited about it,” Parks said of redshirting next season. “I can get bigger and then I can play when I’m a sophomore. That would be awesome.”
Chenault signs with UPike
Jamez Chenault spent most of his sophomore and junior season playing on both sides of the ball for Madison Central.
Last year, the senior moved full time to defense and emerged as a leader for the Indians at linebacker. Chenault finished with 22.5 tackles, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and also had one interception and one pass breakup last season as Central advanced to the second round of the Class 6A Playoffs.
On Wednesday, he signed a national letter of intent to play football at the University of Pikeville.
“He’s still learning the position of linebacker,” Browne said. “We didn’t think he was a fullback, so we moved him to the defensive side where we could use him more. We wanted him to play every snap.”
Chenault suffered a knee injury in Central’s playoff loss to Trinity. He is expected to be ready to play this spring.
Stocker signs with UPike
Hunter Stocker has been under center for the past three seasons for Madison Central.
Next year, the senior will be throwing passes for the University of Pikeville. Stocker signed a national letter of intent with UPike on Wednesday.
“He’s grown up a lot,” Browne said. “He’s got a huge up-side. He’s improved drastically every year. When he goes to college he will be 225 or 230.”
Last season, Stocker competed 130-of-248 passes for 2,165 yards and 20 touchdowns. He averaged 180.4 yards a game and was also the team’s second-leading rusher — 195 yards, three touchdowns.
In 2011, he played in all 11 games and threw for 1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Stocker helped lead the Indians to a district title his junior season — the school’s first since 2005 — and this year played a big role in the school’s first playoff victory since 2008.
“He did an awful good job for us and he was much improved for us this year,” Browne said.