Parker Thompson couldn’t have asked for a much better ending to his high school football career, even if the beginning and middle were a rollercoaster ride.
The Highland Park quarterback finalized his commitment to play college football at the Air Force Academy on Wednesday after committing to the Falcons last summer — before he had even played a varsity snap.
Thompson was among more than a dozen HP seniors recognized during a ceremony on Wednesday to commemorate National Signing Day.
After missing most of his sophomore season at HP with an injury, he sat on the bench during his junior year at Southlake Carroll. Still, Air Force coaches offered a roster spot to Thompson over the summer, before he elected to return to the Scots as a senior, knowing that he was unlikely to be the starter.
“It forced me to work harder,” Thompson said. “It felt natural finishing with the guys I grew up with,” Thompson said. “It felt like home.”
The dual-threat quarterback wound up playing multiple roles during the year, including several games as a receiver. During a win over Irving, he accounted for touchdowns throwing, rushing, and receiving.
When starter Warren Peck suffered a season-ending head injury in late October, it opened an opportunity for Thompson — who engineered two playoff victories, a first in program history at the Class 6A level.
“He’s a do-it-all player,” said HP quarterbacks coach Cody Cory. “He waited for his moment, and whatever we asked him to do, he did it.”
Four of Thompson’s teammates also are headed to college, including offensive linemen Case Pickelman (Georgetown) and Wyatt Swaner (Sewanee), running back Wilson Axley (Washington and Lee), and receiver Steel Tobin (TCU, preferred walk-on).
Missing the first four games of his senior season forced Pickelman to pivot before finding the right fit with the Hoyas.
“The injury happened, and my recruiting pretty much stopped,” he said. “High-academic colleges started reaching out. I knew I wanted to value academics.”
Distance runner Kayla Dickerson, a standout in both cross country and track and field for the Lady Scots, signed with Georgia. A former sprinter, Dickerson said she hadn’t run more than a mile before her freshman year, when some teammates convinced her to try cross country.
“I like the mind games and mental toughness it takes to be a distance runner,” Dickerson said. “I fell in love with it. Now it’s all I want to do.”
Five lacrosse signees were recognized on Wednesday, including twin brothers Donovan Riley (Lafayette) and Cameron Riley (Rollins), along with John Allen (Ohio Wesleyan), Cooper Tilden (Williams), and Hudson Jones (Sewanee).
Other athletes honored were softball catcher Audrey Schedler (Colby College), golfer Will Blankenship (Carnegie Mellon), and sailor Lola Kohl (Tulane).