A lot has changed over the past year for the Georgetown football program. They have a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive system, and most importantly, a few wins under their belt. But one thing that has not changed is the consistent play of senior linebacker Nick Parrish.
On Sept. 11, during the Hoyas’ 28-24 victory over Patriot League rivals Lafayette, Parrish recorded his 269.5th career tackle and, in the process, broke the all-time Georgetown record for tackles.
“The entire situation was just awesome,” Parrish said. “For it to happen on 9/11 was a truly special moment. It means a lot to me to be at the top of a prestigious list like that. But I’m glad it is out of the way . and now we can just focus on football.”
The fact that Parrish recorded his record tackle on 9/11 is magnified by the fact that Parrish wears the number 35 – a number of significant importance to the Georgetown football community. For the past seven years, the players have voted for one member of the team to wear the number-35 jersey to honor the late Joe Eacobacci, a former player and captain who lost his life in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
“It is a tremendous honor to wear 35,” the 6-foot-1 Irving, Texas, native said. “After I broke the record I was contacted by Tom Wonika (who held the previous tackle record and was a teammate of Eacobacci from 1993-1995). He congratulated me and it was a nice moment to share. It was a great way to honor that jersey.”
A starter since the first day he stepped foot on the Hilltop, Parrish brings not only talent, but also a wealth of experience to the football field.
“It is such a comforting factor knowing he is out there,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “He makes my job a whole lot easier. He knows our defense inside and out and is mature beyond his years. You really can’t measure his leadership.”
After a forgettable 0-11 season last year, players like Parrish have helped turn the tide this year.
“[The younger guys] see me as the old man,” the captain said. “I have been here for four years and I know what to expect and know how to approach the coaches. I don’t ask people to do things that I haven’t been asked to do in the past. It’s my job to be the leader and to make sure that this team continues to improve.”
The reigning Patriot League leader in tackles-per-game is off to a somewhat slow start this season by his standards. After recording 110 tackles last season, Parrish has only 28 tackles through his first five games this year. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The defense is more balanced this season and the workload has been split between more members of the team. So far, the results have been promising. Through the first five games, the Hoyas have already forced nine turnovers, leading to a plus-2 turnover margin, compared to last season’s dreadful negative-7 mark in that category.
“We have a greater trust factor this year and are playing really tenacious defense,” Parrish said. “We are doing a better job of swarming the ball as a unit and being on the positive side of the turnover margin. That has been a huge part of our improvement this year.”
It is not a coincidence that the turnovers have increased when you consider the approach Parrish takes to the field. The ball-hawking linebacker that loves to be right in the middle of the action.
“I think my best attribute is being able to find the ball,” Parrish said. “There are not many plays you will see [where] I am not around the ball. Sometimes that can be my downfall and I overrun the play, but I try to make sure that my teammates and I are always swarming the ball.”
For the remaining six games of his football career, Parrish will have the opportunity to add to his already impressive tackle record, which will likely stand for a long time on the Hilltop. However, that is the last thing he is concerned about. Like any good leader, Parrish is far more interested in team accomplishments than personal ones.
“All I want to do is keep up [what] I’ve been doing to help this team,” Parrish said. “As long as we keep winning our league games we can take home a Patriot League championship. That is the ultimate goal.”
For the remainder of the 2010 season, the Blue and Gray can take comfort in knowing the defense is under control with Nick Parrish at its center- both on and off the field.
“There is no doubt we will miss Nick next year,” Kelly said. “You cannot just replace that production. A lot of guys look up to him and he has been an outstanding teammate, helping them learn the ins and outs of our defense. But we will worry about that next year. For now, it’s just a lot of fun to watch him play football.”