A little bad luck kept Kade Parmelly from getting scholarship offers from big-time football programs when he graduated from Wylie in 2017.
But thanks to COVID, he’s getting another chance to fulfill that dream.
After four years at Abilene Christian University, Kade will be playing on the offensive line for Duke this fall.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he said. “I always wanted to play football at a big Power 5 school. It was the perfect opportunity to go fulfill my dream.”
Kade was a standout for the Wylie Bulldogs during his high school years, earning first team all-district and all-area honors, as well as a spot on the Abilene Reporter-News All-Big Country Super Team. He also was Honorable Mention Class 4A all-state and second team academic all-state.
But during his junior year at Wylie, Kade suffered blood clots on his brain and had to sit out the entire football season. Although he returned his senior year, the recruiting process mostly happens during the junior year. Sitting out really hurt his ability to get noticed by college programs.
“That hindered the process for me,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of tape to put out there.”
So he signed an offer with ACU, which turned out to be a blessing.
“I wasn’t super excited to stay in town,” he said. “I wanted to go play football somewhere huge. But it really turned out well. It was a huge blessing. I loved it.”
Kade played in 11 games during his freshman year at ACU starting two of them and never looked back, excelling and getting playing time at four different positions, although guard and center are his primary spots.
Because of COVID, the NCCAA gave every senior an extra year of eligibility after 2020, and Kade took advantage of it.
“As soon as they told me I had an extra year of eligibility, I was in,” he said.
He put his name in the transfer portal to see what offers he would get. The University of North Texas and the University of Houston were among some that took an interest, but Kade was trying to take his time and be methodical about his decision.
“Duke was late in the process,” he said. “They had watched my film, and they said ‘Hey we really like you’, and they offered me a scholarship. On the spot, I was like, ‘I’m in.’ That was a no-brainer.
It’s ACC football.”
Kade earned his bachelor’s degree at ACU in kinesiology, but he is working on an accelerated business degree in management studies at Duke. He started school in January. He said it was either the business degree or a general studies degree.
“I didn’t want to come to Duke to just get a degree in general studies,” he said. “I picked the business degree thinking it was more of a certification. I didn’t realize it was a legit graduate degree program.”
He continued working in the graduate program during the summer and plans to finish the degree by next spring. He isn’t sure what he will do then. Depending on how the upcoming football season goes, he could get some interest from the NFL. But a lot of things have to go right for that to happen, he said.
“I’d like to see if I can continue to play in the NFL,” he said. “But that’s not my main focus. I’m in this to help our team win. I’ll do whatever to help our team win.”
For now, he’s living his dream of experiencing life outside of Abilene and playing in a big time football program. He said he has already gotten to be good friends with his team.
“It’s been great,” he said “I have had so much fun so far. I’ve earned the honor of being the Texas Southern Guy. I’ve gotten involved with church. Our team is so much fun. We are always together. I wanted to experience something new. It’s definitely new. It’s humid. They have trees. They have seasons.”
Kade said he is open to whatever happens after his final season and after his graduation from Duke. His parents, Bryan and Shawna Parmelly, are still in Abilene.
“My parents would want me to say I’m coming back to Abilene,” he said. “But at this point, the world is my oyster.”