The Westphals are a family that thrives on going fast.
Four-star CB Parrker Westphal's next scheduled visits are to Michigan, Florida and Arizona State.
Looking back on it, Brian Westphal says that his son, one of the nation’s top cornerbacks, Parrker Westphal sometimes went a little too fast.
The elder Westphal races and owns a shop that builds racing bikes. He started road racing in the mid-1980s and his two sons wanted to be part of the action.
Brian’s eldest son Brandon, who is currently a senior linebacker at Illinois State, and Parrker, a Top247 cornerback at Bolingbrook (Ill.) High, found themselves on bikes and go-karts well before kindergarten. Parrker tried to start racing dirt bikes at three-years old.
“He was funny,” Brian began. “At three-years old he was capable of balancing it. The problem was, he wasn’t mentally strong enough to know he can’t go full throttle everywhere. I had to yank him off of it till he was four.”
Thirteen-years later, that same kind of reckless abandon is how Westphal plays the game of football. He also still likes to go fast, recently clocking a 4.4 second 40-yard dash.
“At least he’s kind of in control now,” the elder Westphal laughs.
Ranked by the 247Composite as the nation’s No. 12 cornerback and No. 113 prospect overall, Westphal has roughly 20 scholarship offers, with his focus turned to programs like Michigan, where he’ll visit again this weekend, Florida (May 11 visit), Arizona State (May 18 visit), Northwestern (been there several times), Vanderbilt (visited on March 30) and Ole Miss.
While racing bikes and go-karts and playing football don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, the 6-foot, 186-pound Westphal sees some correlation that gives him an edge on Friday nights.
“Say you’re trying to hit a 240-pound lineman or fullback, you don’t have any fear or hesitation,,” Parrker said.
There is also the hand-eye coordination and core strength built up over the years of pushing the bike to the limit through dips and curves. Westphal also found his competitive juice at the track.
“I just wanted to win,” Westphal said. “If I wasn’t first I’d be very upset.”
That carried over to everything else. Westphal’s parents pushed their kids to try numerous things from basketball to track to arts and crafts to computer classes. In eighth grade, Westphal’s design of a wolf pack won a drawing competition and was placed on the school shirt that year. It’s framed in the office at home next to football, basketball and track awards won by Parrker and Brandon throughout the years.
“We exposed them to a lot of different things and the football stuff is what both of them pretty much gravitated towards,” Brian said. “The racing stuff they enjoyed it, they grew up around it, and the other sports they liked, but they loved football.”
With thoughts dedicated to the gridiron, both Brandon and Parrker gave up the regular bike racing around third grade. They were always one of the better players in the area football league growing up, and when Illinois State offered the oldest Westphal it was a big day at home.
“That was incredibly exciting and we never thought of it before that time,” Brian said. “With Parrker, you never knew how things were going to be and how things were going to turn out.”
Parrker says otherwise.
“I knew in sixth grade I had a chance,” he stated. “When my brother started getting schools looking at him, it made me work three times harder.”
Westphal was able to make an impact on the Bolingbrook varsity as a sophomore. In a run to a state championship, he registered 56 tackles and 20 pass breakups. Last season he had 51 tackles, three interceptions and four forced fumbles.
“When my friends were out partying, I’d be at home studying, doing situps and pushups and go for a run at night,” Westphal said. “I’d try and do what Herschel Walker did. Those 3,500 situps, 1,500 pushups, that dude was a freak. I think he lied about that. That’s hard. You need time to do that.”
The work paid off. West Virginia was first to offer nearly a year ago on April 27. Westphal was on a school trip visiting Indiana that day.
“I was so excited, I was speechless,” Westphal said.
April 30 was a memorable day as the next five offers came as Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Cincinnati all jumped into the mix. Florida and Notre Dame came on May 7. Michigan State was May 10 and Indiana on May 16.
“Getting offers from schools like that, I hadn’t even thought about Michigan and Northwestern and Florida and all those schools,” Brian said.
Every summer, the elder Westphal typically travels for road races. He wasn't able to do that a year ago.
“Parrker put a damper in the racing thing,” Brian said, adding he wouldn’t of traded last summer for the world. “I didn’t get to get out at all. Last year we were either visiting places or Brandon had stuff.”
The Westphals went to Illinois, to Michigan, to Iowa, to Nebraska, to Purdue, to Notre Dame, to Ohio State, to Northwestern, back to Michigan, over to Michigan State, back to Northwestern and Illinois, another trip to Michigan before checking out Ohio State again. Westphal hit the in-state schools following the season. He hit Vanderbilt for a spring practice and he’s excited about his upcoming trips to Michigan, Arizona State and Florida.
“I’m just looking for somewhere I’m comfortable and happy where I can get a good degree,” Parrker said.
Westphal would like to make a college decision before the start of his senior season.
Every six months or so, Westphal still gets on a dirt bike and races it around the track they made at his dad’s shop. His brother, and cousins, including USC 2013 signee Ty Isaac, get after it.
“It gets real competitive,” Westphal said.
And real fast.
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