Southern’s success depends on Parker

Southern’s Razan Parker eludes a defender during a preseason scrimmage. Photo by Mark Zimmaro

You could say that Razan Parker is the complete package when it comes to football.

But there was one thing that the standout running back says he was missing from his high school football experience. It was the actual high school itself.

Parker was homeschooled for his first three years, and this fall, he opted to start attending South Philadelphia High School, where he has played football since he was a freshman.

“I needed that personal connection with my teachers and my friends,” Parker said. “It was kind of boring to me to be on the computer all day inside. And I really wanted to be closer with my teammates and my coaches.”

Parker wasn’t always homeschooled. He moved to Southwest Philadelphia from Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles, prior to eighth grade. He had gone to elementary and middle school in the Golden State but his family decided on homeschooling when he moved east. Now he’ll take classes at Southern.

“I really want to make a good impression on my community, learning,” Parker said. “And I want to get that 4.0 GPA. Straight A’s.”

Parker can focus on school because he has just about everything else figured out on the football field. He stars as a running back and is just as impactful on defense in the secondary, making big plays on both sides of the ball. He’ll see even more opportunities this year, as the Rams tinkered with their playbook for the upcoming season, which officially begins on Sept. 1 against Samuel Fels High School at 3 p.m. at the South Philly Supersite.

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“We want to put our best players on the field,” Rams coach Mike McKeen said. “It’s not about a scheme. It’s not about what our offense is. It’s what’s best for our players. We’re not going to fit a square peg through a round hole. We’re going to take our top talent and put it on the field.”  

That works perfectly for a workhorse like Parker. An all-state player last season, Parker’s mentality thrives on hard work.

“A lot of people call me obsessive,” Parker said. “I’ve even had former teammates tell me you take this way too seriously. But this isn’t my end goal. I want to make it to the NFL. So if you’re standing in my way, If you’re an opponent or a teammate, I have to let you know. I always have to check my teammates and make sure they are bringing 100 percent.”

His coaches are counting on it. 

Southern football coach Mike McKeen gives instructions during a preseason scrimmage. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“Razan is going to be the key to the whole thing,” McKeen said. “He’s the hardest worker. He’s the first one here and the last to leave. He’s the guy running extra sprints and doing extra stuff. He’s been with us since he was a freshman and to see the hard work pay off for him is unbelievable.”

Parker runs the 100- and 200-meter sprints as well as the 4×100 relay in the springtime to try to get even faster. He’s garnered attention from college programs like the Universities of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Holy Cross and East Stroudsburg and hopes to pursue accounting in the future. 

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

It’s been four years since arriving in Philadelphia, and Parker has adjusted to his new scenery. He wouldn’t mind playing some meaningful football in the cold weather this fall.

“It was way different (living in California),” Parker said. “The people and the weather for sure. But I like it out here. I feel like it’s more community-based. Like in (Los Angeles), there’s a lot of famous people all walking around like they’re too good for one another. I like it here. I fit in pretty well. I feel like I made some really good relationships with my friends and my coaches.”