Corey Parker Named Illinois Defensive Backs Coach


Illinois Athletics
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Corey Parker was named Illinois' defensive backs coach, head coach Bret Bielema announced. Parker's contract is pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at its meeting in July. 

"I am excited to welcome Coach Parker and his family to Champaign," said Bielema. "Corey is a proven coach on many levels, both on and off the field. His experiences will bring tremendous value to our program and defensive backs."

"I am grateful for the opportunity to join the Illinois football program under Coach Bielema's leadership," said Parker. "During my interview, I had a great feeling about the coaches and the future of the program. There is great continuity within the staff and a great vision for success. We will miss Toledo dearly because of the great sense of community and the relationships we have built there, yet, my wife, Autumn, and our children are excited to start this next chapter in Champaign."

Parker joins the Fighting Illini from Toledo, where he was the Rockets' cornerbacks coach for the last two seasons. He was a 13-year high school head coach in the state of Michigan before moving to Toledo, turning River Rouge High School into a state power. Parker had a 113-34 head coaching record at River Rouge, highlighted by winning a state title in 2019. 

In two seasons at Toledo, Parker helped the Rockets go 20-8 with two MAC Championship Game appearances. Toledo made bowl trips in both of Parker's seasons, winning the 2022 Boca Raton Bowl and appearing in the 2023 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. 

Parker coached Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell into a two-time All-American and first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as the No. 22 overall selection and first corner off the board by the Philadelphia Eagles. Mitchell led the nation in passes defended (44) over the two-year span when he played under Parker and added six interceptions. Mitchell set Toledo's all-time record for passes defended and became the second Rocket in history and first since 1970-71 to earn All-America honors in back-to-back seasons. 

Parker's corners helped Toledo rank in the top 10 in passing efficiency defense in both of his seasons with the Rockets. Toledo ranked 10th in the nation in passing efficiency in 2022 (112.2), then improved to eighth in 2023 (110.2), as the team allowed only 20.3 points per game, the 21st-best mark in the nation. 

Toledo also ranked in the top 10 in the nation in PFF's coverage grade during 2022 and 2023, ranking sixth in 2022 then 10th in 2023. The team's discipline was a big part of the defensive success, as Toledo cornerbacks were penalized just seven times in 429 passing attempts in 2022, then matched the number with only seven penalties again in 2023 on 410 passing attempts. 

Parker's cornerback room also featured Chris McDonald Jr., who progressed into an All-MAC selection under Parker's leadership. McDonald had three interceptions and 18 pass breakups from 2022-23, earning a 2023 All-MAC third-team selection and finishing fifth in Toledo history in career pass breakups (32).

At River Rouge (Mich.) High School, Parker also served as the school's dean of students from 2009-21 and athletic director from 2016-21 in addition to his 13 seasons as head football coach. Parker was a three-time regional coach of the year and earned state coach of the year honors in 2015 and 2019, the year he led River Rouge to the Division 3 state title. During his tenure, more than 100 of his players went on to play college football.

Parker inherited a River Rouge High School program that won just eight games in the four years prior to his arrival in 2009 and turned it into a state power. The Panthers qualified for the state playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons under his guidance, earning seven district titles, five regional crowns, five state semifinal appearances, and three appearances in the state championship game. 

Parker was a three-time letterwinner as a defensive back at Eastern Michigan, where he earned a bachelor's degree in communications in 2005. He is a graduate of St. Martin De Porres High School in Detroit. 

Parker began his coaching career as a defensive backs coach at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 2006. He went on to coach defensive backs and wide receivers at Ann Arbor Huron High School in 2007 before accepting the position of co-defensive coordinator at Inkster High School in 2008. In 2009, he became the head coach at River Rouge.

Parker and his wife, Autumn, have three children: a son, Corey Jr., and two daughters, Avery and Ashlynn.

Coaching Career
Years University Position
2024 Illinois Defensive Backs
2022-23 Toledo Cornerbacks
2009-21 River Rough High School (Mich.) Head Coach
2008 Inkster High School (Mich.) Co-Defensive Coordinator
2007 Ann Arbor Huron High School (Mich.) Defensive Backs/Wide Receivers
2006 University of Detroit Jesuit High School (Mich.) Defensive Backs

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