Over the past week, High School Football America co-founder Trish Hoffman and I spent a week in Phoenix, Arizona hanging-out with our friends Kevin and Molly Lewis, who were celebrating their son Parker, who on Tuesday headed to the University of Southern California (with mom and dad) to begin his life an early enrollee kicker/punter for the USC Trojans.
In 2018, Parker wrote a blog for High School Football America called Kickin’ It with Parker Lewis that chronicled his dream of earning a scholarship to play for USC. During last month’s early signing period, Parker signed his scholarship to play for the Trojans.
Lewis had an outstanding senior season for the Saguaro Sabercats, ranked No. 46 in the final High School Football America 100 national rankings. He was named first team MaxPreps.com All-American and 2nd team USA TODAY All-USA.
While celebrating with Parker, we met his personal kicking coach Sam Watts, who has spent the last five years working side-by-side with Parker. After talking with Sam, I decided it would be a great idea to have Sam blog about how special it is to have his pupil go to the next level.
Below are Sam’s thoughts on Parker, plus Blake Haubeil, Ohio State’s kicker who has become friends with Parker.
by Sam Watts
Privately, coaching kickers and punters is what I do. Today, as I am saying goodbye to 2020 Saguaro High School (Scottsdale, Arizona) kicker Parker Lewis, I am reminded how fast time goes.
It seems like just like last week I was meeting Parker, a lean but tall 7th grader, and his father Kevin Lewis. My goal as a coach is to meet my clients where they are and take them where they want to go.
From very early on in my training sessions with Parker, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the similarities between him and another one of my clients — Blake Haubeil, Ohio State’s junior kicker.
My video recording tablet goes to every session with me and during my lessons with Parker, I would show him film of Blake to help him learn through example. Though there are a few years difference in their age, their athletic background, determination, and goals for high school were nearly identical — they both wanted to play college football at the highest level.
Blake, being from Buffalo, New York, wanted to stay in the northeast for his collegiate experience, while Parker chose to stay west of the Mississippi.
As a high school freshman, Parker’s development as a kicker was on target and it was time to attend college specialist camps, same as Blake had before him. I strongly believe that preparation for, and attendance to, college camps early in one’s high school journey helps provide much needed experience and perspective for young athletes, in addition to camps held by groups not tied to schools, but rather to growing the players skills.
Parker did well to pay attention to Blake’s path to OSU. The two of them regularly talked, and Blake had even come to Phoenix and stayed with Parker while attending one of these specialist camps, one held by former NFL kicker, Michael Husted.
Putting the time in to train regularly with me, and attend these high level kicking camps, played a huge part in both Parker and Blake’s important growth years, and ultimately their successes. Blake and Parker regularly attended both NCS and Kohl’s Kicking camps, two of the most respected specialist camp associations in the country.
✅ SIGNED— Kohl’s Kicking Camps (@KohlsKicking) December 18, 2019
It’s official! The #KohlsKicking No. 3 ranked kicker in America, Parker Lewis, has officially signed his NLI with the USC #Trojans.
➡️ Eval: https://t.co/0dzUwqANKG#NSD20 #RuntheSCene pic.twitter.com/ZYI81aTZUT
Their time with coaches like Michael Husted and Jamie Kohl was very important in their early development and preparation for future college experiences. While training at these camps makes you a better specialist, if collegiate coaches don’t know who you are, it can be difficult to break into a program. With this in mind, we began to incorporate the other half of the camps I mentioned with college program camps.
Parker knew he wanted to attend and play football at USC, so we selected several PAC-12 schools to attend the summer prior to his sophomore season. Attending these camps would lay a foundation for the following year, and was all part of a plan that Parker had witnessed work for Blake, and other specialist before him.
Following his success in his first year of attending specialist camps held by Stanford and USC (winning the field goal competition in both), Parker was able to return following his sophomore season with confidence and believing that the coaches would remember his name.
Parker attended USC with the knowledge that Blake had received an offer prior to his junior season. And, even though it was a possibility, it was not his or our goal. We spoke at length about our camp approach, and how Parker needed to remain focused on performing well, and let the coaches see that even though Parker was young in years, he was determined to play D1 football. USC head coach Clay Helton stood close by and watched Parker with intent, just as Urban Meyer had watched Blake some years back, and Parker absolutely nailed it.
Time does move quickly and hugging Parker goodbye was tough, but it also reminded me that “We did it.” Those were the words both Parker and Blake said to me when we talked on the phone following their offers, “Coach, we did it.”
Yes we did boys, and I couldn’t be prouder. “Thank you, Parker,” is what I told him as we said our final goodbye, but in my head I was thinking how time really does fly, but dreams do come true.
“Fight on!” and “Go Bucks!”
– Sam Watts
Sam Watts, resides in Upstate, New York and has been coaching kickers and punters since1987. Coach Watts is proud member of AFCA and regularly speaks at coaching clinics. To learn more about coach Watts’ company Special Teams Academy and his services go to SpecialTeamsAcademy.com.