There was a clue, buried on page B3 of the Dec. 3, 2006 edition of the Jupiter Courier, that a kid named Cody Parkey may one day become the Dolphins’ kicker.
“Jupiter Boy is Punt, Pass, and Kick Dolphins Team Winner,” read the headline.
Underneath was this report: “Jupiter's Cody Parkey took first place in the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick Miami Dolphins Team Championships on Nov. 12 before the Fins game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Parkey, a Jupiter Middle School student, qualified for the opportunity to be one of the top four finishers in the Boys 14-15 division to compete in the national finals during an AFC playoff game in January.”
Eleven years later, Parkey, now 25, became an instant Dolphins fan favorite when he booted a 54-yard game-winning field goal last Sunday to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 19-17 in his first game with the team. Parkey went 4-for-4, and remains perfect from beyond 50 yards in six career attempts heading into Sunday’s game in New York against the New York Jets.
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Parkey joked that his new teammates might now know his name. He signed with the Dolphins on Sept. 3, replacing Andrew Franks.
Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi revealed that the players weren’t the only ones struggling to remember Parkey’s name.
“I won’t tell you who it is; but I got on the bus after the game and a staff member said to me, ‘What’s our kicker’s name again?’ (laughter) ... I think everybody knows his name now, so that was a good thing,” Rizzi said.
“Andrew Franks has a lot of friends in that locker room, because he’s a great person and a great kicker. So, when a guy unseats a guy like that, there’s certainly going to be a little bit of a feeling out process. It certainly helped Cody’s status with the guys to have such a good game.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stopped at Parkey’s locker to congratulate him. Rizzi awarded Parkey the aqua wrestling-style championship belt given to special teamer of the week.
I won’t tell you who it is; but I got on the bus after the game and a staff member said to me, ‘What’s our kicker’s name again?’ (laughter) ... I think everybody knows his name now, so that was a good thing.
Darren Rizzi, Dolphins special teams coach
Rizzi has been familiar with Parkey for quite some time. While Parkey was drawing oohs and aahs at Jupiter High from 2007 to 2010, Rizzi was the special teams coach at Rutgers (responsible for recruiting South Florida) and the head coach at the University of Rhode Island. His close friend, Chris Sailer, runs one of the nation’s top kicking camps, which Parkey attended, so he was on Rizzi’s watch list early on.
Like many kickers, Parkey played soccer as a kid. He was sweeper for the Jupiter Sting until sophomore year of high school, when he chose to focus on football. He has vivid memories of that November 2006 day at Dolphin Stadium.
His father, Doug, a banker who played tennis at the University of Iowa, warmed Cody up in the tailgate parking lot. Parkey had a Dolphins poster hanging in his room, and idolized then-kicker Olindo Mare.
“They held the Punt, Pass and Kick at halftime, and my throws were pretty bad. But it was so cool looking around and seeing so many people. Back then, my goal was to make my high school team. I wasn’t even thinking about the NFL.”
Parkey had no trouble making the Jupiter High team, which has a strong kicking tradition. Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bosher, who played at the University of Miami, went there and had worked out with Parkey and his older brother, Doug, also a kicker.
The Parkey brothers split time when Doug was a senior.
“Doug was a fine kicker, too, just not as strong as Cody, so I’d have Doug take the shorter ones, 25 or 30 yards in, and Cody take the longer ones,” said former Jupiter High coach Charles Persson. “They were very supportive of each other.”
Tyler Cameron, who played quarterback at Jupiter High and went on to Wake Forest and FAU, remembers losing a Pass, Punt and Kick competition to Parkey in fifth grade. “I thought I was pretty good, but then this kid comes and starts booming kicks. In high school, Cody put on a show during pregame and halftime, kicking it 50, 60 yards. “
Parkey went to Auburn, his mother Kelly’s alma mater. He won two SEC titles and a national championship, went undrafted in 2014, and signed with the Indianapolis Colts, who traded him to Philadelphia. He set the NFL rookie scoring record with 150 points, breaking Kevin Butler’s 29-year mark, and was a Pro Bowl alternate.
He sat out the 2015 season with a groin injury, was waived and picked up by the Cleveland Browns last season two days before their game at Miami. He didn’t meet his holder or snapper until game day, and missed three field goals, including a potential winning 46-yarder at the end of regulation. Miami won in overtime.
“I know Dolphins fans remembered him from the one game he played against us, but we kind of scratched that game out of the equation when we were evaluating him,” Rizzi said. “When you look at his overall body of work, he’s been a consistent guy.”
Miami Herald sportswriter Adam H. Beasley contributed to this report.