Arizona Western sophomore running back Dejhion Parrish was one of the most electrifying players in the world of junior college football during the 2017 season despite a small sample size.
Parrish, who is a 2016 graduate of Interlake High School in Bellevue, rushed for 618 yards on just 41 carries during the 2017 football season. He averaged 15.1 yards per carry on a team that compiled an overall record of 9-1. Arizona Western lost 31-28 to East Mississippi in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Championship game on Dec. 3. Parrish said the three-hour plane ride home from Mississippi was a painful one for himself and his teammates.
“Losing the game by just three (points) fills your head with what ifs,” Parrish said. “You think about what play you could have done better. You think about what could have changed the game. It is just a lot of stuff you have to deal with in your mind.”
Parrish’s best game of the season occurred against Scottsdale on Nov. 11. Parrish had seven carries for 184 yards and scored two touchdowns in Arizona Western’s convincing 66-14 victory. The previous week, Parrish rumbled for 175 yards against Mesa Community College on Nov. 4.
The breakout performances were something that Parrish will never forget.
“It felt like I was part of the team again and that I could actually contribute to the team,” he said. “You never feel good when you’re just sitting there watching everybody else having fun and playing. You just wish you could do something and that you can do it really well. Once I got in, I just wanted to make an immediate impact. That was my whole mindset. I wanted to do whatever I could to help the team. It just so happened to be through rushing the ball is where I helped the team most.”
Parrish was thrilled he was able to make an impact at one of the most prestigious junior college football programs in the country.
“What I will remember the most about it is the grit and the grind every day. That is what I learned the most from this experience,” he said.
Parrish said he will graduate with his associates degree this spring and plans on continuing his football career in the fall of 2018.
“There is a couple of D-1 schools and some NAIA schools I have been talking to,” Parrish said. “Over the summer I plan to keep working out, keep the body conditioned and be ready for the season coming up.”