LAWRENCE — Superstar NFL wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry share a common thread in their former college head coach Les Miles.
Before the duo teamed up with the Cleveland Browns, and well ahead of their seven combined Pro Bowl appearances (and counting), Beckham Jr. and Landry starred under Miles at LSU. The pair racked up a total of 4,149 yards and 27 touchdowns during their three-year stints with the Tigers (2011-13).
Now at Kansas, Miles doesn’t have the luxury of littering his sideline with four- and five-star prospects like Beckham Jr. and Landry.
In emerging Jayhawk junior wide receiver Andrew Parchment, however, the former national championship-winning head coach does see a player who possesses similar DNA.
“He has spectacular ball skills,” Miles said of Parchment, who was named Big 12 newcomer of the week Monday following his 132-yard, two-touchdown effort against West Virginia. “He can turn and snap a ball, put a ball away as fast as anything I’ve seen.”
In lauding Parchment’s ball skills, Miles directly name-dropped Beckham Jr., Landry and former NFL tight end Jackie Harris, the latter of whom Miles worked with while serving as tight ends coach with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I think the Lord wires certain people that way. I don’t think there is any way that you can improve (that),” Miles said. “I think you can improve your catching and study the dynamics of how you hold your hands and what part of the ball you attack and all those things, but I think there is a genetic, a piece of the wiring mentally that allows guys to really handle the ball and anticipate through the air what’s happening. I think we’ve got a couple of those guys.”
To simply label Parchment’s abilities as God-given, however, wouldn’t be telling the whole story of a player who says he picked up the game of football at a young age by throwing and catching balled up socks in his living room.
A two-star recruit in the Class of 2016, Parchment's college football journey first took him to Northern Illinois (2016-17), then to Iowa Central Community College (2018). During that three-year stint, Parchment tallied just 24 total catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns, all numbers he’s already equaled or surpassed with the Jayhawks (24 total receptions for 367 yards and four touchdowns).
Despite Parchment’s relatively thin résumé, KU coaches became enamored with his abilities. Miles immediately identified the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder’s speed and ball-catching ability. During Parchment’s visit in December, the names Beckham Jr. and Landry both came out of the first-year head coach's mouth.
“That’s pretty much what sold me to come over here,” Parchment said of the comparison. “Just him saying that, especially with Jarvis and Odell (being) big time players in the NFL, and that’s where I see myself being as well. It’s a lot of high praise but there’s a lot of things I have to live up to now and it’s just something I have to work through every single day in practice and on the football field and just become a leader for the team.”
Parchment already has three 100-yard receiving efforts as a Jayhawk, a benchmark he’d never reached at any prior stop, even at the high school level. Beyond just his physical gifts, Parchment credited his early success at KU to an approach this offseason that featured him working “every single day” as well as a chemistry forged during that time with senior quarterback Carter Stanley.
That no-days-off attitude admittedly wasn’t always easy.
“When I first came here it was extremely cold,” recalled Parchment, a native of Weston, Fla. “At that time I didn’t have a car so I had to walk from the student apartments all the way over here. ... I’m not really equipped for the cold weather. So I don’t have any Timbs or nothing like that, no boots or stuff like that. Sometimes I had to wear slides (sandals) and stuff like that. But it’s all working out good.”
Sandals? In the snow?
“My socks was soaked,” Parchment continued.
A team meeting shortly after Parchment’s arrival also helped set the tone for his arduous offseason.
“They said, ‘We expect nothing less than a bowl game,’ ” Parchment said. “So the whole entire team jumped on board with that, and that’s what we’re working towards every single day.”
Parchment’s work ethic has continued into his first campaign with the Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1 Big 12), who travel to TCU (2-1, 0-0) for an 11 a.m. Saturday contest in Fort Worth, Texas.
Well after any given practice ends, one can typically find Parchment by following the sound of a jugs machine, which he uses to hone his catching abilities on balls thrown to the sideline, over his shoulders, at his feet and pretty much everywhere in between.
Parchment's play hasn’t exceeded Stanley's expectations, the quarterback said, because Stanley learned early on in his relationship with the wideout to set a high bar.
“Speed and passion,” Stanley said of Parchment’s best attributes. “He wants to win just about as bad as anyone else.”
Facing an inexperienced TCU secondary, Parchment may be a candidate to once again eclipse 100 receiving yards, though he’s certain to start commanding more attention from opposing defenses if he maintains this pace.
Parchment warned future opponents to do so at their own peril.
“We’ve got Pooka Williams, Khalil Herbert, Daylon Charlot, Stephon Robinson,” Parchment said. “If they want to key their attention to me, then somebody else is going to kill you, so I’m not really too worried about it.”
Relayed Miles’ favorable player comparisons, Parchment was then afforded the same opportunity.
Among current NFL wide receivers, Houston Texans standout DeAndre Hopkins is Parchment’s most ideal comparison, he said. Among past players, he identified Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
“Just because the competitiveness,” Parchment explained, “his swag.”