No. 6 on the Arizona Wildcats Badass List: Byron Evans and Glenn Parkerby Javier Morales on Nov. 01, 2011, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category
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No. 6: BYRON EVANS, linebacker (1983-86)
Put this into perspective: During Byron Evans’ senior season at Arizona in 1986, he averaged 17.3 tackles per game as a middle linebacker. The Wildcats’ leading tackler this year is linebacker Paul Vassallo, who is averaging 6.6.
Arizona has not suited a better pursuit defender than Evans in the history of the program, except for Ricky Hunley, another linebacker who defined what being a badass is all about during his heralded career.
Since the Wildcats joined the Pac-10 in 1978, Hunley and Evans are the only players to register at least 100 unassisted tackles in a season. Hunley achieved 100 in 1982, and Evans posted 118 in 1985 and 111 in 1986.
After Evans achieved 196 overall tackles in 1986, nobody has come close to that mark. The closest was Marcus Bell with 139 in 1998.
Evans was Arizona’s captain his senior season, when he was selected the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. A fourth-round draft choice by Philadelphia in 1987, he played eight years with the Eagles, becoming a team captain with a unit that had defensive stars.
Some of his teammates included Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Eric Allen, Seth Joyner and William Thomas.
“To be named one of the captains, you had to trust the person and really believe in what they were doing,” Evans was quoted as saying by PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “They believed that you were a leader and that made me feel real good.”
His former coach at Philadelphia Buddy Ryan, a noted defensive mastermind, once called Evans, “the hardest hitting middle linebacker in the NFL.”
Arizona’s top linebackers of the 1980s — Evans, Hunley, Hunley’s brother Lamonte and Chris Singleton — made the Wildcats competitive as the program transitioned from being a Western Athletic Conference team to a highly ranked program nationally.
One of the highlight plays during “The Streak” — when the Wildcats went nine years (1982-1990) without losing to rival ASU — was Evans’ strip of the ball from punt returner Anthony Parker in 1985.
The Wildcats trailed 13-3 late in the third quarter when the play occurred. Don Be’Ans recovered the ball in the end zone to help cut the lead to 13-10. Max Zendejas kicked a 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to tie the game, and he nailed a 32-yard field goal with 1:43 remaining for the win.
The 16-13 loss for ASU knocked the Sun Devils out of Rose Bowl contention. That was sweet justice for Evans, who is from Phoenix and wanted to play at ASU but was not recruited by the Sun Devils. Evans never lost to ASU while at Arizona.
Evans, 47, currently is the athletic director and football coach for ASU Preparatory Academy, a free public charter school currently enrolling kindergarten through 9th grade, and expanding to 12th grade by 2014. The ASU Preparatory Academy is managed by the University Public Schools network, working in partnership with ASU and the Phoenix Elementary School District.
He is also a pastor and he serves as a coach for the Hitman Sports Football Training Camp in Phoenix.
No. 6 GLENN PARKER, offensive guard (1988-89)
How does a guy who did not play high school football and was a self-described beach bum become an All-Pac-10 player at Arizona and five-time Super Bowl participant in a 12-year NFL career?
Dedication, hard work and toughness — these are some of the words used to describe Parker during his time at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., Arizona, and with Buffalo, Kansas City and the New York Giants in the NFL.
In an interview with ArizonaWildcats.com, Parker also suggested his father played a part in developing his character.
When asked who was his role model growing up, Parker answered, “My father more than anything because he overcame so much in his life; he went to World War II (was in the Navy), fought in Korea, retired in the 1960’s from the service and became an engineer. Provided a great home for us, had personal battles and won them all.”
After retiring from the NFL in 2001, Parker has tried to remain active by training in jiu-jitsu and martial arts.
He had the size (6-5, 265 pounds) coming out of Edison High School in Huntington Beach to play football. But he was not interested in the sport until the Golden West coaches persisted.
“He talked to us three times before he finally showed up,” Golden West coach Ray Shackleford told the Los Angeles Times in a 1989 story. “But once he did, he stuck with it and became one of the most dedicated athletes we’ve had. He was always big, but worked hard to get stronger and quicker.”
While at Arizona, Parker got a tattoo on his bicep of the block “A” helmet logo of the Wildcats. A skull and crossbones is through the letter.
Parker also had a goatee and wore a bandanna, so he carried the look of a badass quite well.
“People will always try and make something out of it,” Parker told the Los Angeles Time. “But it’s just me. I just try and look like a madman when I’m on the field.”
The L.A. Times article also describes how Parker, bent on beating hometown UCLA, told his Wildcat teammates in the huddle that they must gain at least 5 yards a play.
The Wildcats won 42-7 and gained 480 yards on the ground, the most ever against the Bruins.
“That’s the week I went off my rocker,” Parker told the L.A. Times. “I just wanted to beat UCLA so much on national TV and show everyone back home. I was really just trying to be a leader.”
By the time Parker played in the NFL (a third-round draft pick by Buffalo in 1990) he gained up to 315 pounds. He became an important part of the Bills’ offensive line as a right guard, protecting quarterback Jim Kelly and clearing running room for Thurman Thomas.
He was also versatile enough to switch between the guard and tackle positions. He started in 141 of the 174 games he played, as well as all 16 of his postseason appearances.
Parker, 45, was, until last month, the host of In The House, airing on KCUB-AM. He is also one of the main analysts for college football on Versus.
THE BADASS LIST
6. Glenn Parker, offensive guard (1988-89)
7. Rob Gronkowski, tight end (2007-08)
8. Hicham El-Mashtoub, center (1991-94)
9. Dennis Northcutt, wide receiver (1996-99)
10. Nick Foles, quarterback (2009-11)