Linebacker Parker optimistic about defensive improvement

Two blown knees would be more than enough to sideline most athletes for life.

Not Colin Parker.

The ASU redshirt junior linebacker tore his anterior cruciate ligament twice in as many years as a high school recruit at Chandler Hamilton High School.

Both times, however, the resilient football player came back from surgery and eventually found his way onto the Pac-10 stage.

Parker recently spoke with local reporters and The State Press about the homecoming game, his increase in playing time and the state of the Sun Devil defense.

State Press: What does homecoming mean to you, especially this season after being on the road for the last month?

Colin Parker: It feels good. It’s been a long stretch on the road, we’ve been on the road every week since Wisconsin other than the Oregon game. I like playing on the road but it’s nice to be able to settle in a home and get the crowd behind you.

SP: How important is it for you to win the homecoming game?

CP: Every game is important. Homecoming is especially important. There’s a lot of alumni and more fans than usual watching you.

SP: How much does it help you, being from the Valley, to have your friends and family near you all the time?

CP: I get a lot of phone calls, I see a lot of people. It feels good because they’ve been following me since I’ve been here.

SP: What do you think led to you receiving more and more playing time this season?

CP: I’ve just been working hard at practice, playing well when I get the opportunities, and I just think the coaching staff has taken a notice to it.

SP: What did starting your first ever collegiate game mean to you?

CP: I’m at a loss for words; it’s been something that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid — starting a Pac-10 game at ASU. I’ve got to stay humble [though] and go out there and make some plays.

SP: What’s it like when opposing coaches mention you specifically when talking about the Sun Devil defense?

CP: It’s a great compliment. I’m out there just trying to make plays and I honestly never would have thought that they would point me out.

SP: How long did it take for you to get over your injuries?

CP: Mentally, it took a long time. You get cleared after eight or nine months but you can tell the difference when you come back; you’re not the same. It takes a lot of playing time to get comfortable again.

SP: What is the confidence level around the team right now?

CP: Just how our first six games went, the games we lost we felt like we could have won. So from here on out, we feel as long as we play well, we have a good chance to win.

SP: How do you think the defense, as a whole, has progressed to this point in the season?

CP: There’s two main areas we’ve improved. We’ve cut down on mistakes since the early part of the season, and that showed a lot during the Washington game. And then penalties, we had a lot the first four or five games and we’re starting to cut that down.

SP: Do you feel that the defense has to put the team on its shoulders sometimes?

CP: We always go at it like we are going to have to carry the game. The offense is much improved since last year but we can only control what’s on our side of the ball.

Reach the reporter at tyler.emerick@asu.edu