If you’ve ever watched Brighton senior tackle Matthew Parker pancake a hapless defender with his 6-3, 265-pound frame, it should have been apparent he was destined to play football at the next level.

Over the past 18 months, Parker racked up 25 scholarship offers.

In the end, though, Bethel University stood out to the soft-spoken and scholarly Parker. He made things official last Wednesday afternoon when he signed with with the McKenzie, Tenn. school in front of family, friends, teammates and coaches.,


“When I took my official visit, I just loved it,” Parker said Monday after signing on the dotted line. “The place is beautiful.”

Parker also credited Bethel assistant coach Troy Brewer, who coached him at Brighton, with making his decision easier. It also didn’t hurt that two former Brighton teammates – Darrien Lewis and Emmanuel Thurman – previously signed with the school.

While Parker’s athletic skills and frame are undeniable, it takes more than that to earn a college scholarship. That’s something that of which Parker is certainly aware.

“I always tell my mom she doesn’t have to worry about my grades,” Parker said. “I always take it very seriously.”

Keith Setler, who was hired as Brighton’s head coach last month, is obviously not super close to Parker. However, Setler met Parker while coaching an alls-star game in December and was impressed with his maturity, intelligence and skills.

“We got to talk and get to know each other,” said Setler, who attended the signing.

Setler’s coaching resume is impressive and diverse. He’s made stops at the high school and college level and is fully aware what it takes to earn a football scholarship.

“Having coached at the collegiate level, I know what it takes to get to the next level. We have a 3.0 (GPA) club and we reward those guys. We push it all the time to the guys. I’ve recruited from New York to California and the first thing I ask when I walk into a school is I need to see the grades, then the film. If the grades aren’t right, I don’t need to see the film. I preach it to the guys all the time. It doesn’t matter how fast you run or how high you jump, you have to have the grades.”

Jeff Ireland
Author: Jeff Ireland