Parker, North Carolina's starting tailback coming out of spring practice, had dropped to third on the depth chart. He was still attempting to overcome a back injury that had hampered him through the Tar Heels' first five games.
The Tar Heels had a bye week, and Parker went to his hometown of Clinton to relax from the pressures of an already frustrating season.
But the scene that Parker returned to was anything but therapeutic.
People flocked to Parker's house to ask him why he wasn't playing. Rumors circulated through the town that Parker was in UNC coach Carl Torbush's doghouse. Or he had gotten lazy. Maybe he wasn't hitting the holes hard enough.
"I went into the season starting, but I didn't have any answers because I didn't feel like telling everybody how I got hurt and everything," Parker said.
Parker has answered any lingering questions about his play the last two weeks. After totaling 50 rushing yards in UNC's first seven games, Parker has rushed for 132 yards in the last two weeks.
Parker has once again found the form that made him UNC's starter leading up to the season opener against Tulsa. But the journey has not been an easy one.
Parker's back started giving him trouble this summer while he worked out at 6 a.m. in the Kenan Stadium concourse. The back would tighten up, but a training-room diagnosis revealed that it was just strained. Then, before one preseason practice, Parker heard his back pop.
"I couldn't hardly walk off the field," Parker said. "I told them I knew something like that was going to happen."