By Phil Anastasia

Staff Writer

Jamal Parker said he trusted his "gut."

Parker, a Camden Catholic senior and first-team All-South Jersey selection as a defensive back, on Thursday committed to attend Kent State on a football scholarship.

Parker made his official visit to Kent State last weekend and said he knew it was the right place for him.

"I could just tell this was where I wanted to be," Parker said. "It's a lot bigger school than I realized but I felt really comfortable there."

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Parker also had offers from Colgate, Lafayette, Rhode Island, Towson, Buffalo, Army and Lehigh.

He said he plans to sign with Kent State on Feb. 3, national signing day.

Kent State, which is located in Kent, Ohio, plays in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference with programs such as Bowling Green, Akron, Buffalo and Ohio.

Parker said Kent State coaches project him as a cornerback and kick returner.

Parker said he was looking forward to working with Kent State cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat, who played 10 years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots during the 2004 season (with a victory over the Eagles in Jacksonville).

Parker was one of South Jersey's most dynamic players, helping Camden Catholic to a 9-1 record and the No. 3 spot in the final South Jersey Top 25 ranking in The Inquirer.

Parker made 64 tackles as a safety. He averaged 29.6 yards on five punt returns and 29.4 yards on seven kickoff returns.

On the offensive side, Parker was a threat as a receiver and runner. He caught 35 passes for 543 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns.

Parker said he plans to major in either sports marketing or communications.

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