Herald-News’ Defensive Player of the Year: Parrker Westphal

SHARE Herald-News’ Defensive Player of the Year: Parrker Westphal
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Rivals.com rates Parrker Westphal as a four-star recruit.

Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Northwestern are the final three in contention for the Bolingbrook defensive back.

The Raiders boasted the best defense in the area this season, and Westphal was the leader from his safety slot. He was voted SouthWest Suburban Blue Defensive Player of the Year and now is named Defensive Player of the Year on the Herald-News All-Area Football Team.

But to get the full flavor of what Westphal brings to his team, look beyond defense. He made spot contributions on offense and was huge on special teams. He returned 22 punts, averaging 11.6 yards, and averaged 33.9 yards per punt using the running, rugby style.

“Parrker is a complete football player,” Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said.

Former Bolingbrook All-Stater Aaron Bailey, now a University of Illinois quarterback, executed the running punt his last couple of seasons. Westphal was equally effective.

“I liked doing it,” said the 6-1, 190-pound Westphal, who has been clocked at 4.40 in the 40. “I’m able to run hard and kick off the run. I took off running twice instead of kicking and made first downs both times.”

Westphal began his Raiders career as a running back and receiver. But former Bolingbrook and Michigan cornerback Todd Howard is the Raiders’ defensive backs coach and he had a better idea.

“Todd thought I had more potential on defense and he got me there,” Westphal said. “We talk sometimes about his Michigan days. When he was a corner there, he had the school record for most pass breakups.”

Westphal mimicked his mentor this season with eight pass breakups to go with three interceptions and 47 tackles, including 35 solo and four for loss. Bolingbrook (10-1) allowed 8.0 points per game and limited eight of its 11 foes to one touchdown or less. Westphal’s presence, along with his statitics, helped make it happen.

Westphal, whose brother, Brandon, completed his senior season as an Illinois State linebacker this fall, started at cornerback for the 2011 Bolingbrook state championship. Michigan State and Vanderbilt have talked of him playing either position. Northwestern has him pegged as a corner.

“One thing about Parrker, his technique is fluid wherever he plays,” Ivlow said. “He has had one of the best technicians in the business to work with in Todd Howard.”

Westphal said he is visiting Northwestern on Dec. 6 and will have a decision shortly after.

A good student, he plans to graduate early from Bolingbrook, enroll in college and participate in spring drills. He is considering a business major but said he will be undeclared to start.

In addition to getting bigger, stronger and faster for football during his years at Bolingbrook, Westphal improved his long jump from 20-0 as a freshman to 22-8 last spring, when he qualified for state in the triple jump.

He is primed — mind and body — for the next level.

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