Four years have come and gone as a blur for senior safety William Parks. The Arizona Wildcats are fighting for bowl eligibility, needing just one more win on the season, and a win for Will Parks will be something he'll remember for the rest of his life.
"I've been thinking about that for about the past two days," Parks said on Monday. "Words can't even describe how I got to this point, first off. And then to go out there and beat Utah, a top-ten team on Senior Night. My mom is coming to town and that means a lot to me, and my dad. Knowing that they in the stands for the first time together in, I don't even know when, it would mean a lot to me. Just go out there and do what I gotta do, knowing that she's up there, and they up there at the same time... I'm about to tear up."
His mom was out of work for quite some time, but just recently got back into the workforce, nailing sheetrock for the city of Philadelphia. Working long hours every day, she often misses out on any chances to watch her son play.
"That's who I'm really looking forward to seeing because I haven't seen her in so long and I know the first thing she's doing when she comes here is cry, and she's going to be like 'You came so far, and you almost done with your season, you made it, you're on your way to your degree in May.' And it's going to be hard but I mean I wouldn't change it for nothing. God gave me all the strength to come over here and work hard and develop a certain attitude for this team, and they've had my back just like I've had theirs for the past four years. And I wouldn't change any of these people for anything. Like everyone said, it's going to be emotional."
Arizona's Director of On Campus Recruiting, Matt Dudek, has played a huge role in Will's football life. Hailing from Pennsylvania himself, Dudek began his relationship with Parks as the recruiting coordinator for the Pittsburgh Panthers.
"I've known Dudek for a long time. And I feel like he's had my back since day one," Parks said about their relationship. "From when he had been recruiting me at Pitt and then coming here. He has beautiful daughters, a beautiful wife, he's a good person and I wouldn't trade him for anything. There's so many words out there that you could describe for a person and he could be all of them, all the positive ones. He can teach you so much and I'm very, very, very, very thankful for him. I feel like he's family, he could be like an uncle to me and I would never forget Dudek."
Tucson may not be the city of brotherly love, but here he feels a sense of community, love and safety that he appreciates so much.
"This community is something like no other. Coming from where we come from, the hospitality out here is totally different as far as you're the focal point, you're the one game in town. Everyone is coming to watch you play, everyone knows who you are. They hold you to a higher standard, they look at you for so much."
Will Parks has been contributing to this team since being a true freshman, and has had a lot of great memories to reflect upon. Coming into Rich Rodriguez' first recruiting class at Arizona, Parks is truly grateful for his coach.
"How Coach Rod kind of brought us all together into one idea, to be a part of that was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. What that man did for us, it's crazy. There's a lot of things that he did for us, that I don't think anyone else would have done. Helping us believe that we can beat teams that people think we can't beat," Parks said when asked about his favorite football moment at Arizona.
Beating USC in 2012, Will's freshman year, knocking off Oregon in back-to-back years, and winning the Pac-12 South Championship last season. That can be attributed to Rich Rodriguez believing in his players, and getting the most out of his guys.
"He implemented a believe type of atmosphere around here and everybody loves football around here, and he made me love football even more," Parks said about Rodriguez.
"It's what that man did for all of us to help us achieve our goals," the safety continued. "Whether we win or lose, to play hard every single play and that's what I love about being here most. Whether you win or lose, just know that you gave it your all and so when you're done with your career here, like I'm about to, you can have no regrets."
Will Parks is the vocal leader of not only the secondary, but the entire team. He's leading the team in tackles with 59 on the season. He's also recorded 4.5 tackles for loss, deflected seven passes, and forced two fumbles. Parks will lead the charge on defense, to get his team to bowl eligibility, leaving it all on the field as he dons No. 11 in navy blue and cardinal red for one last time at home.