Curtain Call: FSU grad transfer Parchment determined to go out on top
There was a time not long ago when Andrew Parchment thought this might be the most exciting week of his life.
Preparing to hear his name called at the 2021 NFL Draft. Getting ready to embark upon a lifelong dream of playing professional football.
Instead, on Wednesday morning, he was finishing up an online quiz for a class on Asian religions at the University of Kansas. It was the last assignment he had to turn in before earning his bachelor's degree and transferring to Florida State University this summer.
"I'm officially done with school," Parchment said during a phone call from South Florida, where he is training for his final season of college football.
Parchment quickly explained that he won't be traveling back to Lawrence, Kan., for graduation next month: "I'm focused on getting my transcripts and everything sent over to Florida State so I can start as soon as possible."
There's an urgency and determination in Parchment's voice. It's the heightened sense of purpose that comes at the intersection of confidence and risk.
Make no mistake: Andrew Parchment is filled with self-belief. He has zero doubt he will be one of the best wide receivers in college football this fall. At the same time, he knows he took somewhat of a gamble by entering the transfer portal and not the NFL Draft.
Not because he would have been a high draft pick this week. He knows his disappointing 2020 season would have cost him a chance of that -- even after catching 65 passes with seven touchdowns one year earlier. It's because he's already 23 years old and is entering his fourth college in six years since high school.
It's why when he talked with advisers and agents last December, Parchment very nearly decided against committing to FSU head coach Mike Norvell.
"In the final hours before I committed, I was actually leaning toward going into the draft," Parchment said. "Mostly because of the whole age thing."
But as he did a few years earlier -- and he has done for most of his life -- Parchment decided to bet on himself. He chose to give himself one last chance to prove what he can accomplish on the college level.
It's an approach that has served him well.
After originally signing with Northern Illinois out of high school in 2016, the Fort Lauderdale native eventually gave up his scholarship to the four-year school and transferred to Iowa Central Community College in the bustling metropolis of Fort Dodge, Iowa.
"I've always had a chip on my shoulder," Parchment said. "Whether that was coming out of high school and being kind of underrecruited, going to a MAC school in Northern Illinois. Then going to JUCO after that and pretty much betting on myself and going to middle-of-nowhere Iowa.
"I just knew that if I stayed at NIU, then that was going to be my whole football career. And I knew there was more for me somewhere. I had to go find it. I had to get that confidence back that I left high school with."
There was no guarantee it was going to work out in his favor. But after catching 23 passes in his one year of junior college, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound wideout would attract the attention of Kansas, Iowa State, Hawaii and several other programs.
He eventually signed with the Jayhawks. And his first year there could not have gone much better.
He caught eight passes for 121 yards in his very first game and went on to be named Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Parchment would then be selected for the preseason All-Big 12 first-team offense in 2020 and see his name added to the Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.
But just when Parchment's career was really taking off, his encore in Lawrence could not have gone much worse. The Jayhawks' quarterback play was dreadful, as was the offensive line and the entire team for that matter. Kansas would finish the season with an 0-9 record, and Parchment recorded just 24 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
Fortunately, since the NCAA ruled that 2020 would not count against players' eligibility due to the coronavirus, Parchment knew he had options.
He could stay in Kansas for another season. He could leave for the NFL. Or he could transfer to another school.
He chose option C.
"My No. 1 goal is to remind everybody what caliber of player I am," Parchment said. "I want to show the whole entire world -- not just the Big 12 and not just the people that played against Kansas -- that I am an elite receiver and I am one of the best receivers in the country."
And Florida State felt like the perfect place to make that statement.
After spending the past several years in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, Parchment was determined to play his final season back home in the Sunshine State. The final two schools under consideration were FSU and UCF, and the receiver decided on the Seminoles after speaking with a player intimately familiar with both schools: Former Golden Knights star and current FSU quarterback McKenzie Milton.
"He just told me, 'Yo bro, we can do some special things here at Florida State,'" Parchment recalled. "So I just kind of ran with him. And I feel like we both have got something to prove."
Parchment announced his commitment to FSU on Dec. 31, and he has spent the past four months working to take advantage of his final college opportunity.
He trains four days a week with Nick Hicks at Per4orm, a strength and fitness facility in South Florida that attracts NFL players and other elite athletes. Former FSU star and current Minnesota Viking Dalvin Cook and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are among the regular clientele. It's also where former Seminole defensive end Brian Burns trained before he was selected in the first round two years ago.
And on the weekends, Parchment works out by himself or with friends -- running on the beach, lifting weights and running routes.
"I treated this offseason as if I was going into my rookie year," Parchment said. "That's the mindset I have. I'm treating it as if I was going into my rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars organization. The only difference is I'll be going to the Florida State Seminoles.
"I'm very excited. I just can't wait to put back on the pads."
Parchment plans to arrive at FSU in the middle of May and enroll in classes this summer. He already has made two trips to Tallahassee on his own this spring, spending time with Milton, and he said the two of them share a similar mindset.
"Everybody knows what type of player McKenzie is, and some people know what type of player I am," Parchment said. "We're ready to show the world what we're capable of. We want to put the world on notice."
There is no guarantee Milton will be the Seminoles' starting quarterback this fall, of course. The UCF transfer is in the midst of a spirited battle with returning starter Jordan Travis, and Travis had the edge for most of spring practice.
But Parchment isn't overly concerned with how that competition will play out. He has seen enough of both quarterbacks -- and he has so much confidence in Norvell's offense -- that he's sure there are big things in store.
"I'm very excited about whoever will be behind the center," Parchment said. "And also with Coach Norvell, you can just look at his track record. I was a big Memphis fan when I was in JUCO. That was one of the schools I really wanted to go to, just because of the way they used Damonte Coxie and stuff like that. So it's kind of funny how it all comes full circle and I'm here with Coach Norvell -- a brilliant offensive mind."
The only real guidance Norvell has given Parchment so far is to make sure he's in tip-top shape when he arrives in Tallahassee. The receiver said he already has gone over some of the terminology of the offense with Milton, so he doesn't expect much of a learning curve when he dives into his new playbook.
"My job is to get open, block on the perimeter and catch the football," Parchment said.
When asked which NFL receivers he likes to study, the South Florida product mentioned the Carolina Panthers' Robby Anderson, Buffalo's Stefon Diggs and Arizona's DeAndre Hopkins. He said all three have body types similar to his, and he loves their aggressive style of play.
"I feel like I have that same dog mentality mindset," Parchment said. "A DB knows if he's guarding me, it's going to be a fight all four quarters."
For now, those fights will take place in Doak Campbell Stadium and on other college campuses. The closest Parchment will come to the NFL in the coming months will likely be watching the draft tonight and this weekend.
He will not hear his name called by Roger Goodell. At least not for one more year.
"I feel like I can honestly be the No. 1 receiver in the country if I do what I'm supposed to be doing," Parchment said. "There are still a lot of opportunities out there, and I just feel like I'm better than where I was going to be chosen. So now I'm doing every I have to do so that there's no stone unturned."