The Iowa Hawkeyes are off to a hot start in the new year. After rounding out 2022 with a shutout of Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, Iowa has looked ahead to the 2023 season by pushing hard to improve the roster via the transfer portal.
Despite losing backup quarterback Carson May to transfer, we’ve since since Iowa land a former 4-star Wisconsin QB (Deacon Hill) and the JUCO defensive player of the year (Jackson Filer) in the last week. As was noted in our discussion of the Filer commitment, the Hawkeyes are not done yet. Iowa is hosting a handful of high end portal targets for visits this weekend.
That group included the aforementioned Filer, as well as a pair of top flight offensive tackles. The first of those is former Saginaw Valley State tackle and recent Virginia commit Daijon Parker. After formally announcing the addition of Parker on national signing day and adding him to the official roster, Parker made a visit to Iowa City this weekend and quickly announced his decision to flip his commitment to the Hawkeyes on Saturday afternoon.
Parker is a major pickup for the Hawkeyes, who struggled mightily along the offensive line in 2022, but perhaps nowhere more than at tackle. Making matters more pressing for 2023, Iowa loses senior Jack Plumb this offseason leaving a whole at right tackle.
The Hawkeyes have now filled that gap in a big way. Parker is a former developmental prospect who committed to Saginaw Valley State, a division two program, after playing just one year of high school football at John Glenn High in Westland, Michigan. The former basketball player was 6’6” and just 220 pounds when he stepped foot on campus back in 2018 and thus took a redshirt year.
His career got off to a slow start as he missed 2019 due to injury and then saw the 2020 season slip away due to COVID-19. But Parker surged onto the scene in 2021 as Saginaw Valley’s starting right tackle before moving to the left side in 2022. In that time, he developed from a 220 pound basketball player into 300 pound road grader with a mean streak.
On film, Parker jumps off the screen at the D-II level as a vastly superior athlete who uses his size and strength to man-handle opposing defenders. He eats up pass rushers off the edge and digs out smaller defensive linemen only to gain leverage and burry them with a pancake in the running game. In short, Daijon Parker looks like exactly what the doctor ordered for the Iowa offensive line in 2023.
Beyond the physical abilities you see on the screen, Parker fits the culture of an Iowa offensive linemen incredibly well. Talking with The Daily Progress, a Charlottesville, Virginia paper after his commitment to the Cavaliers, Parker said he’s learned to have an impeccable work ethic and to never give up during his time at Saginaw Valley.
“What I learned the most is you got to take it seriously, because there were other undersized guys who came in that didn’t ultimately get to the 300-pound threshold. You’ve got to take it seriously and you’ve got to put on weight. It’s hard, too. I’m not going to sit here and act like it was easy. It took me two-and-a-half, three years to finally get it on good and it’s hard. It’s taken a lot of work. There were days where I’m like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But I put the weight on good. It’s not sloppy weight. I’m lean and it’s real good, so it fits my frame perfectly. I worked hard and stayed at it.”
Parker comes to Iowa City with one year of eligibility remaining and figures to be a plug and play at right tackle for the Hawkeyes. Notably, Iowa is also hosting former Stanford starting left tackle Walter Rouse this weekend, who could make a bookend with Parker, potentially pushing previous starter Mason Richman inside to guard or into a depth role.
Welcome aboard Daijon Parker!