Swinney: Parker shouldn't pass up football

Kyle Parker carries a .396 batting average into tonight's game against Coastal Carolina. The outfielder/first baseman leads Clemson's baseball team in that category, not to mention slugging percentage (.747), hits (36), runs (33) and on-base percentage (.509).

Clemson ranks No. 10 nationally in the most recent USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' poll, and Parker is a major reason why.

Translation: he's really, really good on the diamond.

But Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney insists Parker can be even better on the gridiron.

As Parker, the Tigers' starting quarterback, tries to juggle baseball and football this spring, the debate about his sporting future isn't going away. Swinney once again was asked about Parker's plans after Monday's practice, and he didn't hold back his opinion on the matter.

"I'd be very disappointed if he weren't here in the fall," Swinney told reporters. "I think he has tremendous NFL ability. I don't have any doubts he could play on Sunday. Right now, I think he's in a great situation for his future as it continues to play out."

Swinney also offered up this gem.

"I think there would have to be a Brinks truck full of money for him to pass up being the starting quarterback at Clemson and walk away from school and baseball. Because this time next year he still has leverage. And me personally -- and I know everybody wants to debate it -- but I think it would be a crying shame for him not to play quarterback and give the NFL a shot. I really do."

Tell us how you really feel, coach.

Swinney obviously is a bit biased here, as he knows Parker gives Clemson the best chance to reach its goals in 2010. But coaches usually don't mention NFL potential unless there's something to it. Doing so without evidence would be a tremendous disservice to Parker, who remains undecided about his plans.

It'll be a tough call for Parker no matter what. Baseball provides much more earning potential and a longer playing career than football. If Parker ends up as a high pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in June, he'll have a tough time passing up the money and the chance to play for a while.

But if Parker believes Swinney about his pro prospects in football, he should be back calling signals this fall for the Tigers.