The biggest gift Dylan Parham received from his parents didn’t have anything to do with his height, his speed or his ability to throw a football.
James and Angie Parham, the Southeast Raleigh High senior quarterback’s parents, were good high school athletes, but neither played in college. They’re just above average height, so he can’t attribute his 6-foot-5 frame to them. (Dylan suspects height is somewhere else in the family tree. He has a couple of uncles on both sides of the family who stand a little taller than he does.)
What he can give his parents credit for is their dedication to perfection in everything.
As the N.C. State quarterback recruit works his way through the area’s toughest non-conference schedule with his Southeast Raleigh High teammates, he keeps his focus on doing everything possible to perform at his best and help his teammates do the same.
“There’s always something you can do better,” Parham said. “Completing a pass for a touchdown is great, but I want it to be perfectly thrown. There’s a huge difference in where you put that ball that can help your teammates. A ball can be 6 inches off-target to the right and it changes everything. And the higher level of competition you play, that 6 inches can quickly turn into an interception and points for the other team.”
As he prepares to join a surging Wolfpack football program next fall, it’s that commitment to perfection that will prepare him for the future – on the field and off.
“He’s tough on himself,” said Southeast Raleigh coach Michael Thibodeau. “He’s not satisfied with anything, and that carries over off the field as well. He’s mad at himself in school when he gets a B-plus, he’s mad at himself in practice if he throws a pick, he’s mad at himself if he throws an incompletion in warmups – in a good way. He wants to be better than he was the day before.”
Parham went from getting interest from the likes of Charlotte and Old Dominion to becoming the committed recruit of a Power Five conference school in a couple of weeks during the summer of 2014.
He went to David Cutcliffe’s quarterback camp at Duke for a Wednesday-Thursday session over the summer, then participated in a 7-on-7 tournament with his Southeast Raleigh teammates at N.C. State the following weekend.
“I had a really, really, really good day,” he recalled. “Our team was really clicking.”
It wasn’t too long before Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren invited him into his office for a one-on-one chat. He left the office with a scholarship offer, one he didn’t wait too long to accept.
The 205-pounder is most often labeled as a pocket passer by recruiting analysts, but he plays like the ideal Doeren offensive recruit, featuring some of the same traits Jacoby Brissett is exhibiting with the Wolfpack these days and what made Jordan Lynch a household name among college football fans under Doeren at Northern Illinois.
Parham has the arm to make most any throw and has enough speed to make you wonder if his future at the next level is taking snaps.
“They all say quarterback,” Parham said when asked what college recruiters talked to him about. “And that’s what I’m planning to play, but I’m open to play something else if that’s what they think I’m best suited to do. But every indication I’ve gotten is quarterback.”
That wasn’t what he wanted to play when he first snapped on a helmet.
“I wanted to play defense,” Parham said. “I liked contact and the easiest way to get contact in football is to play defense.”
He says he always had a good arm, but coaches didn’t put too much into it until he started to shoot up in height.
He grew 4 inches during his freshman year, and suddenly the 6-foot-5 player had all of the physical tools to be a D1 quarterback.
When State showed heavy interest, it was an easy decision for Parham to make.
“I knew so much about the program and you see what’s going on over there now, you want to be a part of it if you’re from here,” Parham said. “State can be a national program. You don’t have to go somewhere else to play at the highest level.”
Building a bond
When the Wolfpack had its big run of local, national-level talent recruits come in last season, Parham got even more excited.
He’s talked with Nyheim Hines and Johnny Frasier and others to get some insight on the program and says a group of State recruits from the Class of 2016 communicates almost daily in group text messages.
“Just checking up on each other, seeing what’s happening with them,” he said. “We’re building a bond that will carry over for the next few years already.”
For now, though, Parham remains focused on helping his Bulldog teammates be a team to watch come late October and November. He’s part of an offense that has nine starters back and put up 99 points through its first two games.
The Bulldogs were held to six points by back-to-back state runner-up Wake Forest in Week 3.
“We’re such an improved unit over last year already,” Parham said. “We can run the ball a lot better and we’ve got several guys who can play that hybrid role, contribute running the ball or in the passing game. We’re going to always be capable of putting up big numbers.”
And the most important number they’ll be concerned with – especially when Greater Neuse River 4A Conference play begins – is the same one Parham obsesses over: wins.
He’ll keep running when needed, throwing when needed, leading when needed and working to get 6 inches closer to perfection on every play.
“The things that Dylan has – he has the ‘it’ factor, he has the look down, he has the arm strength and all those attributes and intangibles; but he also has the ability to push himself,” Thibodeau said. “You can’t ask more than that from a high school player. If you get 50 kids like that, you’re set.”
J. Mike Blake contributed.