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February 9, 2012Callaway (Hogansville, Ga.) four-star tight end Ricky Parks committed to Auburn in June, eight months before Signing Day.
But Parks had been committed to the Tigers long before he announced his decision last summer.
"He's an Auburn man," said Auburn tight ends coach Jay Boulware. "He's been an Auburn man all of his life."
Last Wednesday, on National Signing Day, Parks made it official. He was one of two tight ends to sign with Auburn, joining Dadeville (Ala.) three-star Darrion Hutcherson. Parks and Hutcherson combined to give Auburn the nation's No. 3 tight end class.
Parks, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, is ranked the No. 2 tight end in the country. Colleges continued their pursuit of him despite his public commitment to Auburn. But Parks never wavered.
"He loves Auburn," said Boulware. "Ricky wanted to come to Auburn before we even knew who Ricky was. When he first came on our campus, he had on an Auburn hat and an Auburn sweatshirt. His sweatshirt was one that even I didn't have, and I thought I had them all.
"That's how big into Auburn he really was. He has been Auburn through and through, and we love guys like that."
In the first nine games of his senior season, Parks, playing quarterback, passed for 191 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed 80 times for 555 yards and four scores. Parks' ability to play quarterback was something that stood out to Boulware.
"Ricky is versatile," said Boulware. "We really liked that about him. He can play both tight end and the 'u-back' or 'h-back' position. He can do a lot of the same things (Philip) Lutzenkirchen has done for us in the backfield as well as on the line of scrimmage.
"I'm looking forward to coaching him. I think he's a great kid. His family is awesome. He's got everything that we look for in a tight end here at Auburn. He has all of the intangibles to be a great one."
As does Hutcherson, Boulware said, although the big 6-foot-7, 245-pounder is a different type of tight end. He stands four inches taller than Parks and weighs 25 pounds more.
"He's more of a traditional tight end as far as playing more with his hand down," said Boulware. "He fits that mold of a traditional tight end that we were looking for. He's not going to be the 'h-back', but he's a guy where you can put him on the line of scrimmage, flex him out and with his height and let him get some 1-on-1 matchups."
Hutcherson, ranked the No. 1 tight end in Alabama, had 30 receptions for 572 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He helped lead Dadeville to an undefeated regular season and a 13-1 overall record.
Hutcherson helped on both sides of the ball. On defense, playing end, he had 36 tackles, two sacks and an interception. He's also a standout in basketball.
"He's extremely athletic," said Boulware. "He's fast. He can run. He can jump. He can catch. He's a multi-sport athlete. He's 240 pounds right now and he hasn't really been in the weight room, yet.
"He's got a lot of potential. He has the frame to be a big-time tight end at our level and even in the NFL."