‘I’ve always been a fast kid’: Speed is what’s keeping Parker Kingston alive — and in the game
The Roy High product and redshirt freshman is off to an impressive start for the Cougars
If Parker Kingston had his way, BYU would never defer an opening kickoff to the second half. The redshirt freshman wants to be the first Cougar to touch the ball — and he has the speed to do something with it.
“I’ve always been a fast kid,” Kingston told BYUtv’s “Gameday” program. “Growing up, I have always been the fastest in school and the fastest on my teams. I had to work on it to get the form down, but it has always come naturally for me.”
“I’m not the biggest and I’m not the strongest, but I do have speed and I know that there aren’t many out there who can hang with me speed wise, so that’s what I like to use.” — BYU receiver Parker Kingston
At 5-feet-11 and 180 pounds, the Roy High product, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, is not only hanging with the big boys, but is also making plays right alongside them.
Speed is the name of the game for Kingston, and he has made the most of his time in the fast lane. During three years at Roy, Kingston rushed for 2,136 yards, passed for 2,649 yards, and corralled 542 receiving yards while scoring 64 touchdowns. His speed is not only a weapon, but it’s the key to his survival. He learned at a young age that defenders can’t hit what they can’t catch.
“It’s been huge,” he said. “I’m not the biggest and I’m not the strongest, but I do have speed and I know that there aren’t many out there who can hang with me speed wise, so that’s what I like to use.”
It’s early in his debut season, but Kingston already has kickoff returns of 46 and 41 yards — the two longest at BYU since 2019. Against the Razorbacks, he caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown, he had one rush for three yards, and threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Deion Smith.
“I was saying to myself, ‘Don’t throw a pick,’” he said. “I knew we were going to run it. We practiced it every day. I just didn’t know it was going to come so early to flip the momentum. Kedon (Slovis) came up to me first and said, ‘I knew you could sling it!’ So, it was awesome.”
Kingston joins Jim McMahon as the only Roy graduates to have thrown a touchdown pass at BYU. So far, Kingston has one. McMahon is on the NCAA books for 84, but when you add in his bowl touchdowns, he threw 93 at BYU between 1978, 1980-81.
Like McMahon, Kingston didn’t grow up a Cougars fan. He didn’t expect to play in Provo and hasn’t even seen McMahon’s famous “Hail Mary” pass to Clay Brown to win the 1980 Holiday Bowl. The move to BYU worked out for McMahon. He earned College Football Hall of Fame honors, had his jersey retired, and won Super Bowls with the Bears and Packers.
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So far, the decision to play at BYU looks pretty good for Kingston, too. The hamstring injury to Kody Epps has allowed the youngster to get on the field earlier than expected and his performance has offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick thinking up new ways to keep him there.
“I knew I was going to find a way to play a role on this team,” Kingston said. “I didn’t know that it would be doing what I’m doing right now, but I’m super excited where they have put me and what I’ve accomplished so far.”
Kingston and the Cougars open Big 12 play Saturday at Kansas (1:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN). If BYU receives the opening kickoff, you can trust there will be an eager redshirt freshman with a smile on his face — waiting to catch the ball and take off.
You can see Dave McCann’s interview with Parker Kingston Saturday at 11 a.m. on BYUtv’s “Gameday” program, including what it felt like to cross the goal line for the first time as a Division I football player.