More than a few Clemson fans – not to mention coach Dabo Swinney – were already preparing for the Tajh Boyd era under center after starting quarterback Kyle Parker was taken in the first round of the MLB draft last month. Parker's long-term future is considered to be squarely on the diamond, unlike that of Washington quarterback/future NFL first-rounder Jake Locker, a two-time draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels. And Parker's first-round payday from the Colorado Rockies figured to come with at least a $1 million signing bonus.
So Wednesday morning was a kind of Christmas in July for Tiger partisans. They woke up to the unexpected news that Parker plans to announce his return to Clemson, after all. Strike one for following the heart. According to Baseball America, the decision to pass on the pros for another year is going to cost Parker a fat paycheck, even by the standards of first-round draft picks:
To give up football, Parker had sought a bonus along the lines of the $3 million the Red Sox gave Tennessee quarterback recruit Casey Kelly as the 30th overall pick in 2008. The Rockies offered close to double MLB's bonus recommendation for the No. 26 slot ($1.197 million), but the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.
Parker's return means I've already logged my first failed prediction of the 2010 season. But it's good news for Clemson's offense, which gets a relatively seasoned starter who immediately increases the odds of repeating as the ACC's Atlantic division champ. Parker struggled with accuracy last year as a redshirt freshman, but he was ultimately a key cog in the Tigers' division title run, and he'll go down forever as the first athlete in NCAA history to immediately follow a 20-touchdown season in football with 20 home runs in baseball in the same academic year.
[Flashback photo: Remember this football and baseball star?]
The Rockies have until Aug. 16 to sign Parker and to secure his rights if he's ready to move on by next summer. They've already got one ACC quarterback under contract: N.C. State's Russell Wilson agreed to a $200,000 bonus earlier this week and was planning to report for a brief minor league stint before football season. The NCAA allows players to be paid for pro baseball while remaining an "amateur" in football, and vice versa. But if Parker plans on playing "amateur" baseball at Clemson in the spring, a pro contract is a no-go.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
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