By Mark Soltau
STANFORD, Calif. -
Few thought David Parry could play football at the major-college level, but he knew he had the talent.
"I had a bunch of I-AA and Ivy League offers," said the 6-foot-2, 300-pound junior defensive tackle. "Everybody kind of told me they were looking at other guys in front of me. Penn made a strong push, but I wanted to play bigger football than that and shut the door."
Parry eventually made an unofficial visit to Stanford. He had inside knowledge of the area -- his parents lived in Daly City in the 1980s and he had aunts and uncles in San Francisco. It didn't take long for him to become sold on Stanford.
"It was the perfect mix of athletics and academics," he said.
There was only one catch: the Cardinal didn't have a scholarship to offer him.
Parry enrolled anyway and has since proved he could compete at the highest level. He redshirted in 2010, appeared in all 13 games last year, and has split time with Terrence Stephens this season. Now a scholarship player, Parry is expected to make his second consecutive start Friday night against UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Stanford Stadium, with the winner earning a berth in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1.
Parry had a big game against the Bruins last week, collecting a team-high five solo tackles, a sack, and he knocked down a pass.
"It was a breakout game to many because they hadn't seen him," said defensive line coach Randy Hart. "It's what he does every day in practice. He's worked very hard to get where he is. He gives great effort and he's smart. He loves the game of football and, as a result, it shows on the field."
At Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa, Parry played both ways and was a two-time all-state selection at offensive tackle. Bob Forsyth, his former coach, remembers a tough, dedicated player, who helped change the fortunes of the program.
"When I arrived his junior year, we had lost 27 straight games," said Forsyth. "I relied on David as my bell cow. He led by example. Kids followed him into the weight room and got interested. He was an impressive kid in a lot of ways."
Lin-Marr won three games during his junior year and nine during his senior year, winning the Valley Division title. Parry received the team's Lion's Award as the most valuable player.
"He was a very physical player," Forsyth said. "We give out helmet stickers for good plays. I remember one game he got 10 or 11 for pancaking defensive linemen. That's the most we've ever given out."
Forsyth said Parry left his mark on the program.
"We have kids that want to emulate him," he said. "He was a great student and good person. We couldn't be prouder of him."
At Stanford, former head coach Jim Harbaugh moved Parry to nose guard. The late Chester McGlockton worked closely with Parry and helped him become the player he is today.
"Coach McGlockton stayed with me after practice and was instrumental in my success," said Parry. "I put tribute tape on my hands for him every game. I write `RIP' on my left hand and `C.M.' on my right. I also say a little prayer for him."
Parry's mother, Elaine, was born in Germany and is American Samoan. She worked in the army before meeting her husband, George. Parry also has an older brother who played football at Harvard.
A political science major, Parry knows how to keep his teammates loose. During the dog days of fall camp, he likes to clown around. He also got players to participate in a move he calls the "rollercoaster," where he moves his torso around and gets teammates to chant and copy him. He's done it at Stanford women's soccer games, and even did it in a movie theater last year during the Fiesta Bowl week.
"The crowd is kind of shocked how into it we get," he said. "Just little pick-me ups."
Parry will be looking to create more havoc with the UCLA offense on Friday.
Stanford won the first meeting, 35-17, last week in Pasadena but expects the Bruins to be even tougher this time. He said facing the same team twice in six days isn't a big deal.
"In our meeting room, coach Hart wrote on our board, `New opponent,'" said Parry. "To be honest, it would be tougher to play somebody else."
Parry's main focus will be pushing offensive lineman off the line of scrimmage and forcing them to double-team him, which will create opportunities for the ends and linebackers.
"As long as I do my job, everybody else will do their job," he said. "Nobody wants to wake up knowing we didn't give our best."