CALGARY – It has been a good week for University of Calgary Dinos slotback Anthony Parker.
After being named the top Canadian Football League draft prospect in Canadian Interuniversity Sport football by the CFL’s central scouting bureau on Tuesday, Parker added another feather in his cap with the announcement that he has been invited to the prestigious East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Fla.
Parker will join Queen’s offensive lineman Matthew O’Donnell as the CIS representatives at the annual event, which is slated for Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kickoff goes at 2 p.m. MT on the NFL Network.
The annual all-star showcase features more than 80 of the top players in NCAA football, and representatives of Canadian schools have been invited each year since the Dinos’ Tom Spoletini became the first in 1985. With his selection to the game, Parker becomes the record 10th University of Calgary player to appear in the Shrine Game and the first since defensive lineman Dan Federkeil, who went in 2006 before embarking on a career in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.
Parker is the first Dinos receiver to receive the Shrine Game invite since Hec Crighton winner Don Blair attended the 1996 game at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
“It is an incredible honour to have been selected as a member of the East West Shrine Game, and to be one of only two players in all of Canada is really special,” said the 21-year-old Okotoks, Alta. native. “I am looking forward to the opportunity and it is another step in the right direction! It will be a highlight of my career to this point and I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute, not only as a participant in the game but also to such a great cause.”
The Shrine Game has been played annually since 1925 to raise funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children and to raise awareness about the expert orthopedic, burn, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, and cleft lip and palate care, available at no charge to patients and families, through the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children. The week-long event in Florida will include a visit by the two teams to a Shriners Hospital in nearby Tampa.
Despite missing three regular season games due to an injury this fall, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Parker finished third in Canada West with 73.4 receiving yards per contest and fifth in all-purpose yards with an average of 125.2. He was named a conference all-star for the second straight season.
In the playoffs, he tripled his scoring output with six touchdowns in four games and 376 more receiving yards, helping the Dinos claim their third consecutive Canada West title and reach the Vanier Cup final for the second year in a row.
Parker enjoyed his best campaign with the Dinos as a junior in 2009 when he led Canada West and ranked third in the country with 816 receiving yards, and scored 10 all-purpose touchdowns to finish second in the Western conference. His statistics earned him second-team all-Canadian status.
Parker has been the highest-ranked CIS player by the CFL’s Scouting Bureau all season as he opened at No. 3 on the Sept. 16 list and maintained that position in the December rankings released Tuesday.
In Orlando, the CIS standouts will get a chance to play for a pair of coaching legends.
Parker’s West team will be coached by Wade Phillips. Phillips, 63, went 83-64 overall as an NFL head coach between 1985 and 2010 with New Orleans, Denver, Buffalo, Atlanta and Dallas. He led his last team, the Cowboys, to a pair of first-place finishes in the NFC East in 2007 and 2009. He started his coaching career back in 1969 at the University of Houston as a graduate assistant.
Dan Reeves, 66, will lead the East team. Reeves led the Denver Broncos to three Super Bowl appearances in a span of four years between 1987 and 1990 and guided the Atlanta Falcons to the NFL title game in 1999. Over his 23-year tenure at the helm of Denver, Atlanta and the New York Giants from 1981 to 2003, he compiled a 190-165-2 regular season record and an 11-9 playoff mark.
CIS Players in the East West Shrine Game (by school, since 1985)
3 McGill, UBC, Laval, Regina
2 Concordia, Guelph, Carleton, Manitoba, StFX, McMaster, Western, Queen’s
1 Bishop’s, Ottawa, Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier, Simon Fraser, Waterloo, Sherbrooke, Windsor
About Canada West Universities Athletic Association
“Canada West is consistently the most decorated of the four conferences in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), winning at least 10 CIS national titles every year since 1997-98. Comprised of 14 schools, from the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the CWUAA produces numerous major award winners and Academic All-Canadian student-athletes each year, with many going on to athletic success around the globe in pro leagues or events such as the Olympics, Paralympics or Universiade Games.”
A proud member of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).