As the 2014 football season approaches for the Colorado Buffaloes, there’s one thing that’s certain – Juda Parker has become a true leader. After moving from defensive end, the 6-foot-2, 270 pound defensive lineman recently bulked up with 20 pounds of muscle for his new position. When asked about his progression during the offseason at CU’s football media day, Parker said “I had a lot to do this offseason. I gained some weight, a lot of muscle. I learned the new position more. I think I’ve accomplished all those goals. Just being a team captain and getting the guys to gel, that’s something I feel we’ve really improved upon.” Parker enters his senior season being named one of the six team captains for the Buffaloes, after starting nine of the 12 games last season at defensive end.
With the shift in positions for defensive line coach Jim Jeffcoat, Parker looks forward to this season under his newly established role. ”I think coach did an excellent job finding out really what my strength are, my quickness, and my abilities to be part of the defenders. For me the move from defensive end to defensive tackle will help me to become a better football player and teammate. I have a huge responsibility and I’m preparing that way.” Parker is on track for a productive season with a good showing in spring scrimmages, gathering up nine tackles along with a forced fumble.
Parker and the Buffs have experienced a full season under head coach Mike Macintyre, with the program showing signs of progression from a dismal tenure and eventual firing of former coach John Embree in 2012. Macintyre led the Buffs to more wins last season than the past two seasons combined. The difference is something that Parker said comes from experiencing a better work ethic.
“The difference that I’ve seen having one year under Coach Mac’s belt is the style and the speed we play at, faster practices that are a lot longer. We’ve had a lot more reps in practice than I’ve seen in my first two years. I feel that can only help us better. When you see what’s going on in front of you football wise, the game slows down for you. You’re able to diagnose plays and make plays.”
As far as the big differences, it’s apparent the tide is starting to turn for the football program at CU — not only for the players on the field, but off the field as well. “These coaches really care about us as far as what we’re going to do when football ends for us. As far as getting a job, having a career, starting a family, these coaches are really investing a lot of personal time into us and we appreciate that as players.”
Being talented is something that exceeds further than the football field for Parker. Last month, he was part of the Pac-12‘s media day along with Coach Macintyre and WR Nelson Spruce. Parker showed off his ability to sing Nat King Cole‘s “Unforgettable” for the audience of Pac-12 Networks. Of the great vocal performance he says, “I’ve never had any professional training, my singing has strictly come from family time with karaoke and really relaxing with the family.” He hasn’t thought about trying out for “America Idol” or “The Voice” but would consider it, if the opportunity came calling.
Before committing to Colorado in 2010, Parker was a highly ranked defensive end recruit from Saint Louis High School in Honolulu, HI. During that time, he was teammates with Heisman Trophy front runner and Oregon Ducks QB Marcus Mariota. Parker looks forward to playing against his former teammate on Nov. 22 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, OR and said the accolades that Mariota has accomplished in his Heisman push are “well deserved” and ”wishes him all the best.”
The Buffs open the season on Aug. 29 in Denver, CO against in-state rival the Colorado State Rams.