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    Aaron Epps said it best.

    “He’s back,” the University of Louisville junior offensive tackle said after the football team’s 30-18 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday.

    Epps’ statement likely wasn’t meant to be a tribute to the 1986 horror sequel Poltergeist II (especially considering the fact that Epps wasn’t even close to being born when the film was released). Instead, it was in reference to the return of standout wideout DeVante Parker, something that might strike fear in the teams remaining on the Cardinals’ schedule, especially after the 6-foot-3, 211-pound senior wide receiver’s dazzling season-debut.


    Parker is a monster,” junior cornerback Charles Gaines declared. 

    Parker, who missed UofL’s first seven games of the season with a broken foot, had a monster game - nine catches for 132 yards in the homecoming win over the Wolfpack. 

    “Obviously it’s great to have DeVante back,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.

    The Ballard High School graduate, who is a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, was great in his first three seasons and had big expectations for his senior year (he was the only Card on the Preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference team). However Parker, who entered this year third in program history in receiving touchdowns with 28 - three behind Arnold Jackson and five behind Ibn Green - and 10th in career receiving yards (1,920), broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in late August. 

    As Saturday showed, Parker’s return will undoubtedly help a UofL offense that hadn’t lived up to expectations of fans (given Petrino’s high-scoring track record) or its coach in the first half of the season. 

    “Obviously it makes us a lot better,” said Petrino, whose team came in averaging 23.4 points and 4.6 yards per play per ACC game. “When you get one-on-one coverage, and you’ve got a guy that everyone believes in, and he’ll win and catch the ball."

    Parker proved that, catching passes in five of Louisville's six scoring drives against the Wolfpack, as the Cards averaged 5.3 yards per play. The latter was UofL's second-highest average this season (it averaged 6.9 yards per play in its 66-21 mauling of Murray State).

    Parker, who was a late scratch in the Cards’ loss at Clemson a week earlier, didn't start against N.C. State but it didn’t take long for him to make his presence felt against the


    . On the second play of the game Parker took a slant from Will Gardner and raced 37 yards.

    Four plays later he caught a 4-yard pass. Two plays later Louisville took a 7-0 on Gardner’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Eli Rogers.

    Parker added catches of 9 and 7 yards on UofL’s third possession, then had a 22-yard reception on the team’s fourth drive, which ended with John Wallace’s 40-yard field goal. Late in the half Parker recorded catches of 21 and 11 yards on Louisville’s third scoring drive, which ended with Gardner’s 3-yard TD pass to Kai DeLa Cruz that gave UofL a 17-6 halftime lead.

    “You have to bracket him but I think that’s the worst thing to do. If you play him man-to-man that’s even worse,” Gaines said.

    Parker finished the first half with seven catches for 111 yards. That alone was enough for Parker to surpass Mark Clayton, a former NFL standout with the Miami Dolphins, on the all-time receiving yards list. 

    “Parker had a huge impact on their offense and we needed to take him away,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said.

    Parker, who wasn’t available to the media after the game, only had two catches in the second half - a 12-yarder and a 9-yarder - but both were on drives that ended in Wallace field goals.

    Parker, who averaged 16.9 yards per catch (which tied for fifth in program history) in his first three seasons, averaged 14.7 yards per catch against the Wolfpack. Of his nine catches, five went for 11

    for 11 or more yards and seven led to Louisville first downs.

    “He really was (sharp),” Petrino said. “I thought he played really well. I was really impressed with the way he ran after the catch. I thought he’d get open, I thought he’d catch the ball, but I didn’t expect to see that many yards after the catch.”

    And Gardner, who coincidentally had a season-high 21 completions against N.C. State, believes Saturday was just the start of something good for Parker.

    “When I talk to him he says he’s good and that he is ready to go,” the sophomore QB said. “He had over 100 yards tonight so he’s getting there. I expect to see bigger things in the future.”

    Photo courtesy of University of Louisville Football Facebook Page

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