Sept. 16, 2010
WASHINGTON - The story of senior linebacker Nick Parrish (Irving, Texas/Jesuit College Prep) becoming the Hoyas' all-time tackles leader reads much closer to Disney than Georgetown football. The two-time captain was selected by his peers to wear the Joe Eacobacci Memorial No. 35 jersey in the spring to commemorate the former Georgetown football captain, who lost his live at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Like a storybook, Parrish then made his record breaking, 269.5th tackle in the fourth quarter of Georgetown's victory over Lafayette on September 11, 2010.
Unlike in film or fairy tale, the tackle was not the end. Parrish tackled Lafayette's Jerome Rudolph at the Hoyas 21 yard line early in the fourth quarter with the game still in doubt. At the time, there was no fanfare for the tackle that lifted Parrish past Tom Wonica (1993-95), a former teammate of Eacobacci's. It was only after being informed of the milestone during the post-game press conference that Parrish, himself, knew what he had accomplished. Even after being informed, the captain was more excited about the team's win to improve the Hoyas to 2-0 for the first time since 1999, and the importance of the day than any individual accolade.
"To be wearing that jersey and all that comes with it and all that it means on that particular day and for us to have a great team victory is just very special," Parrish said. "Playing on September 11 was something that we emphasized during the last week of practice heading into the game. Coach Kelly spoke about how important it is. We had a moment of silence, we had a prayer about it in our pre-game chapel, so it's something that you never forget because of the image burned into your mind forever."
Parrish's attention to the moment and the team is something that has characterized his time on the Hilltop. In interviews, Parrish speaks of playing "Hoya football" with pride only using the phrase synonymous with excellence. It is part of what has made him fitting for the lead role.
"Now Nick will have his name in the record books for years to come and everyone will know he wore the No. 35 and that adds considerable importance to his accomplishment," Rob Sgarlata, Georgetown's Defensive Coordinator and a teammate of Joe Eacobacci's said. "You could not write a better story to honor Joey's memory. Tommy (Wonica) and Joey were roommates for three years and best friends in college, so it's amazing how the No. 35 jersey has been able to bring the Georgetown Football family together. Former players from different eras know that the player who wears No. 35 is a true representation of class and dedication that Joey brought to his life and Nick is a true representation in both spirit and action of the living memorial represented by the No. 35."
So for Parrish, to pass Wonica as the career tackles leader on September 11 was poetic justice for a player who has symbolized all the attributes that made Wonica's friend and roommate, Eacobacci and his No. 35 a cherished part of the Georgetown football program. The way Parrish handled the accomplishment, by thanking others and thinking first of his team, is part of reason the two-year captain had made an impact on the program on and off the field.
"The tackles record kind of snuck up on me," Parrish said. "It's a great record to break. It speaks to longevity and being productive over your entire career, but it also speaks to the guys that have been playing in front of me on the defensive line and my teammates around me enabling me to make plays."
Parrish was selected to several preseason All American teams, but his talent on the field is only part of what has made him a special member of the Georgetown football family.
"He's the ultimate leader, he's a very mature player, the kid's all respect him, he plays hard, he practices what he preaches," Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. "Right from day one as a freshman he was mature beyond his years and we knew he was going to be a great player for us. You're just happy for him because he deserves this recognition."
Through his career the individual accolades Parrish has earned have outweighed the team's accomplishments on the field. He led the Patriot League in tackles a year ago with 110 and was named to several pre-season All America teams. But with the Hoyas headed into Yale with a 2-0 record, the first time the team started the season 2-0 since 1999, the time to reflect on his individual accomplishments will have to wait.
"I think what's kept me from being so focused on the record is the fact that we're 2-0 right now," Parrish said. "We've already beaten a Patriot League opponent and we're positioning ourselves, if we keep this up, to do some great things this year."
For Parrish and the Hoyas becoming the Hoyas all-time tackles leader is far from the end of the story.