Jalen Parmele draws a crowd of Iowa State defenders as he ripped off this long run at the Glass Bowl Saturday night.
Senior Jalen Parmele is the fifth player the University of Toledo has tried this season on kickoff returns.
UT coaches had initially hoped to use the Rockets' star running back primarily on offense. Injuries and ineffectiveness changed that plan, and no one in the Larimer Athletic Complex is regretting it.
Parmele's 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Saturday was the beginning of the momentum swing that helped get the Rockets their first victory. Parmele also returned kicks to UT's 39 and 45, giving his team a field-position advantage sorely missed in the first three games.
He was named Mid-American Conference West division special teams player of the week for his efforts.
Other than his superior speed, another reason Parmele can be especially effective on special teams is because he is not a true workhorse back. Some tailbacks on run-oriented teams get the ball 30 times a game. Against Iowa State Parmele had 16 carries for 74 yards and a score on offense.
The Rockets consider themselves more of a passing-based team. This year they have split their offensive plays almost evenly, 138 pass attempts to 146 rushing attempts. Parmele is averaging a little under 20 carries a game.
So worry of fatigue, and the possibility of injury on what some consider the most dangerous play of football, is not a primary concern for the Rockets regarding Parmele.
"You always know about injuries, but that's part of the game," UT coach Tom Amstutz said. "But with Jalen's ability, his workload is not like we're giving him the ball every play. We have a balanced offense. His workload is reasonable that he can return kickoffs for us."
Another reason Parmele's there to stay on special teams is because he's so tough to bring down. Coaches counted five missed ISU tackles on Parmele's return for a TD.
Parmele is fifth in rushing in the MAC averaging 80 yards per game. He prefers offense to special teams but said returning kicks gets him revved up.
"It gets my legs moving," Parmele said. "It gets me warmed up at the start of the game. I have no complaints."
BLOCKED TWICE: The errant field goal attempt by Iowa State's Bret Culbertson with 11 seconds left was touched not once, but twice by Rockets players.
Greg Hay, rushing toward the kicker, got a finger on it to slow it down. Maurice Hill, playing in the middle of the defensive line, further blocked it.
Watching film Sunday cleared up some confusion for Amstutz, who originally did not think it had been touched.
"Maurice Hill got the biggest piece of it," Amstutz said. "The official marked 'touch', you can see him standing right behind him."
LOVE IN THE GLASS BOWL: Amid the postgame celebration Saturday night, senior punter Brett Kern added to the jubilation. Kern proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Tiffany Robey, while standing on the Rocket logo in the center of the field at the Glass Bowl. Robey, from Lima, said yes.
Kern had been planning the proposal for about a month. He admitted the prequestion-popping nerves were bothering him, although his five punts still averaged more than 40 yards.
"My heart was pounding the whole game," Kern said. "My production went down a little bit this week. I'm ready to get back going."
Kern is ninth in the nation with an average of 45.5 yards per punt.
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