A Rising Star Emerges from Reed High School in Nevada

By EFN Staff
Published: 02/24/2015

A talent was unearthed at Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada during the 2014 season. Perhaps a better way to phrase what happened would be to say a position switch placed an otherwise overlooked and previously undersized player into a lead role on a championship caliber team last season.

So what was the big fuss? Parker Houston moved from center to tight end and the rest, as they say, is history.

Houston played center during his freshman and sophomore season. Lining up in the trenches in the 6’3”, 210 pound, range does not scream top level high school football. But the two years at an odd position for the now 6’4.5”, 228 pound, rising star is sure to pay off well in the coming years. Beyond learning how to deep snap, a role that could get him a scholarship offer alone, he also learned how to block, something not all tight ends do very well.

In his first year playing tight end Houston did not just play well, he exceeded all expectations placing himself among the top players in the nation at his given position for the 2016 recruiting class. The Raiders offense ended up featuring Houston in the passing attack leading to 40 receptions for 525 yards with 10 touchdowns. They even ran tight end reverses with him!

Opposing coaches along with state and local media took notice as well naming Houston First-Team All-League, First-Team All-Region, Second-Team All-State, and team co-Offensive Player of the Year.

The Raiders pushed forward under head coach Ernie Howren finishing 11-4 in 2014 with a loss to the nation’s No. 1 team Bishop Gorman in the state championship game.

Houston sat down for an Elite Sports Network interview discussing his phenomenal year at tight end in 2014, offseason workouts, and preparing for his senior season.

Parker, before the season started, how did the team bond and come together for a championship title run?

“The fact that we were going for our fourth zone title in a row was really important for the team. All of our players love football and we all wanted to have a good season for our seniors. Playing Bishop Gorman in the state championship game was always our goal.”

Walk us through how the Raiders’ season went in 2014?

“We were coming in with a lot of uncertainty especially with me playing a new position. I don’t think I was ready for it. We lost our first two games to Mountain Pointe (66-13) and Clovis North (19-16) but once the coaches and my teammates helped me work into my roll at tight end we started excelling. We looked good until we played against Hug (Game 9). That was a last second lost (48-45). The loss shook up the team. We knew we were better.

“There was no exaggeration of the loss in our locker room. We won next week and won by a larger margin (McQueen 42-20). The win spiked our hype again. Leading into state we knew it was going to be tough. We did a great job against BG (Bishop Gorman) in the first half but let up in the second half.”

Side note: Reed avenged their regular season loss to Hug by beating them 31-19 in the first round of the playoffs.

Knowing that BG was stacked and largely considered the top team in the nation by the time the Raiders faced them in the title game, what was the mentality of the team before the big game?

“Playing them is the best competition we usually get all year. It brings college scouts giving some of our guys a chance to get seen by recruiters. To play that kind of physicality it’s pretty exciting. We were excited for the game.”

How does Reed look going into the 2015 season?

“I think we’ll be pretty good. We’re down two offensive linemen, four total from last year. Other than that I think we’ll be pretty solid.”

You lost two would-be players, not seniors, in the offseason?

“Yeah, one of the guys was a starter last year as a sophomore. When he decided to quit it came as a shock to everyone on the team.”

After one year on the field at tight end what do you believe are your strengths at your new position?

“I didn’t do a lot of pass blocking, actually once by mistake. Run blocking is kind of simple and easy for me especially after playing center my first two years. I have size on some of the kids. I think my other strengths are catching the ball and running routes. I hadn’t run any routes since Pop Warner but it went well. I’ve always had good hands.”

Looking back, what are your thoughts on the season you had?

“2014 was the best season I’ve ever had. I played center my freshman and sophomore season but was moved to tight end by the end of my sophomore year. The move has opened up a lot of opportunities and made my football experience a lot better. It helps knowing I can help the team at tight end a lot more than at center.”

How many pancake blocks did you get last year?

“I have no idea. If I had to guess it was somewhere around 20.”

What are your goals for the 2015 football season?

“My goals are to contribute to my team, the team going back to the state championship game, and going for a zone five-peat.”

What about personal performance goals?

“Another double-digit season in touchdowns would be nice. I’d like some more pancake blocks and another goal would be to dominate my assignment on every play.”

What schools are recruiting you right now?

“Our coach said in April the college coaches will start coming by to meet me. Some of the schools he said that are showing interest are San Diego State, Idaho, and UNR (Nevada-Reno).”

Side note: Nevada has reportedly extended an offer to Parker.

When your time comes to pick a college what are some of the more important factors that will help shape your decision?

“I’m looking for a school that has my major. I want to get my degree in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. I’d prefer to stay on the West Coast so my family can come see me play.”

What are you doing in the offseason to prepare for your senior season?

“I’m working with a former NFL tight end and long snapper (J.J. Milan at FAST). I go there three times a week. I’m doing a lot of speed and footwork along with strength and conditioning work.”

Are you going to any college camps this summer?

“I’m eying the Opening. Other than that I don’t know yet. I went to the UNR camp last summer.”

You just participated in the Rivals Regional camp in Las Vegas on Sunday. How did that go?

“There are a lot better players out there in the world than in the state of Nevada. I was impressed with how physical and strong all the guys are even without the pads. I realized how much I need to work on my footwork. I got tripped up a couple of times but felt that I performed pretty solid.”

How did pass catching go for you?

“I caught the ball well.”

What’s the biggest difference going from receiving passes from your high school quarterback to quarterbacks at the camp?

“The release of each quarterback is different, that was the main thing. With Matt (Denn) and me our timing is there.”

Which NFL players do you enjoy watching play the game?

“In the NFL I like watching Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers) and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots). I just like the way they play. I love the 49ers so liking Vernon Davis is pretty easy. With Gronk, I just like the way he does stuff. He just kind of bullies people around on the field and that’s what I do.”

Do you play any sports other than football for Reed?

“I play varsity baseball and next year I plan on playing basketball.”

What positions do you play in baseball?

“I’m a first baseman and a pitcher.”

How many years have you been on varsity in baseball?

“My freshman and sophomore seasons I played junior varsity.”

Walk us through your skills on the diamond.

“As a pitcher I’m intimidating with my size. I hit my spots well. At first I have a good stretch. I make long throws easier for my infielders. At the plate I’m a power hitter. My sophomore year wasn’t great. I’ve been going to hitting lessons with former UNLV player Nick Kuster (1990-1994).

Who has made the biggest impact on your football career?

“All the males in my family that have played football have had an impact on me. My dad’s dad, my mom’s dad, my dad (Brian), and my uncle all played the game. I want to continue that legacy.”

Did you dad play in college?

“Yes, he played at New Mexico State. He played center and was an interior lineman.”

Describe your most memorable moment in high school football.

“Winning zone championships with my team has been the most memorable. That was an incredible experience and a great achievement.”

What is your favorite part of playing football?

“My favorite part is the fact that I’m out there with all my friends. I’ve been playing with our quarterback (Matt) since we were in grade school. I look forward to it. I have been doing it since 6-7 years old.”

Raw but talented, even by his own admission, that is Parker Houston. His game film shows it all as well. He blocks with an attitude, and has great speed, especially for a tight end. So much so they even ran tight end screens with him just to get the ball into his hands on long yardage situations.

Competing in events like the Rivals Regional camp in Vegas and playing against a stacked team like Bishop Gorman only helps the on the field maturation of young Mr. Houston, he’s already dominating the rest of the competition. He’s too much for high school linebackers and safeties to cover as is in the passing game and shows he’s a complete package at tight end by his willingness to block and get dirty in the running game.

His stock is rising, but how far it continues to rise is up to him. Based on his responses to key questions, he is very serious about continuing his football career to the next level and not resting on his early accomplishments.

The big question is how long will it take for colleges outside the immediate area to discover this Nevada talent.

Photo credit: Reno Gazette Journal; No. 84 Parker Houston
Photo credit: Rivals photographer; Parker Houston at Vegas Rivals camp.