One day after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 in the battle for the number one playoff seed in the AFC, two members of the New England Patriots helped make the day of a Texas Tech defender: Wide receiver Danny Amendola, who played for Texas Tech from 2004 to 2007, and tight end Rob Gronkowski sent a video message to Lubbock intended for defensive back Justus Parker.
Parker joined the Red Raiders after transferring from Division III's Texas Lutheran following the 2015 season and has become one of the team's most valuable defenders. This season, the redshirt sophomore appeared in all 12 of Texas Tech's games and was named second-team All Big 12 after registering 42 tackles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a team-leading four interceptions.
As a walk-on, however, he had not received a scholarship yet. Until Monday, that is, when he received the following message:
Amendola is not the only connection between Texas Tech and the Patriots: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who posted the video to his Twitter account, was a sixth round draft pick by New England in 2003 to serve as one of Tom Brady's backup quarterbacks. However, he spent the entire season on injured reserve and was released the following season.
Kingsbury is coaching the Red Raiders since 2013; his team will play in the Birmingham Bowl against South Florida later this week.