Parker, the first Division I athlete to throw 20 touchdowns and hit 20 home runs in the same year, announced Wednesday morning that he will return to Clemson for his sophomore football season instead of immediately embarking on a baseball career with the Colorado Rockies.
He said he will continue to negotiate a deal with the Rockies, who picked him 26th overall in last month's Major League Baseball draft.
"I am ready to get back to Calmest, work out with my football teammates and coaches and get ready for the season," Parker said in a statement. "The closer you get to football season the more you think about playing in Death Valley, running down the hill and being a part of the Clemson football tradition."
Whether Parker would return to Clemson was about the only question Tigers fans have talked about since the power-hitting outfielder-designated hitter was selected by the Rockies.
Parker has until Aug. 16 to sign with Colorado. He told Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney of his plans late Tuesday night.
"I was in a situation where I couldn't make a bad decision," Parker said.
Parker is expected back on campus to work out with football teammates next week, athletic spokesman Tim Bourret said. The Tigers open fall practice Aug. 3.
Parker quickly established himself as an offensive force last season on a team loaded with experienced record-setters like tailback C.J. Spiller, receiver Jacoby Ford and tight end Michael Palmer. Parker beat out local favorite Willy Korn for the quarterback spot last summer, then was a key part of the Tigers' six-game, midseason win streak that brought them the ACC Atlantic Division and a trip to the league championship game.
Parker threw for 2,526 yards last season, a school best for redshirt freshmen. His 20 touchdowns doubled the previous high of ex-Tiger standout Charlie Whitehurst in 2002.
"Whenever you have a returning starter at quarterback who led you to the Atlantic Division title, that is a real plus for your team," Swinney said. Parker "is a dynamic athlete who brings a lot of positives to our offense."
Parker's future became muddled after his stellar baseball season. His 20 homers helped the Tigers to the College World Series and Colorado selected him higher than most analysts projected.
Parker's father, Carl, was a receiver drafted by Cincinnati in 1988 and spent two years with the Bengals. He said Wednesday he gave his son guidance about the decision. "In the end, you have to let them choose and stand back," Carl Parker said.
Losing Parker would've made Clemson's offense a bigger question mark entering the season than it already is.
Spiller was the ACC's player of the year in 2009, Ford was college football's fastest player with a 4.28 second 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine and Palmer set a school mark for receptions by a tight end. All are in NFL training camps this month.
Without Parker, Swinney would've picked between two untested quarterback commodities in freshman Tajh Boyd and senior Michael Wade, neither of whom have completed a college pass. It's an issue the Tigers no longer have to deal with.
It's the second straight year Swinney's held onto a coveted pro prospect. In January 2009, Spiller turned down a likely first-round NFL draft spot to play his senior season. Spiller was picked No. 9 by Buffalo last April.
"Glad my boy KP decided to stay another year, now my clemson folks can be at" ease, Spiller said on his Twitter account this morning.
Swinney is glad to have at least one additional season with Parker.
"Someone once said there is something in those hills at Clemson," Swinney said. "At the end of the day, whatever is in those hills was too much for Kyle Parker to turn down."