It wasn't long before wrestling was helping Parker stay in shape for, well, wrestling, as he left his football playing and other sports behind.
"I liked the competition," Parker said. "If you win at wrestling, you get all the glory. If you lose, you get all the blame -- it's not on all the other members of the team, too."
Parker said that first year he got both sides of that experience but added: "I won enough not to make me want to quit."
The Cass wrestling star said he became convinced early that wrestling was the sport he could get best at. "I felt like I was good at football and baseball, but I decided I'd rather excel in wrestling rather than be mediocre in three sports."
That decision has paid off for the Cass star, who lettered four years, as he has just signed a wrestling scholarship at Cumberland University, in Lebanon, Tenn.
His first year as a wrestler, Parker competed in the 152-pound division. This past season, he competed in the 171-pound classification.
He said he got bigger and more proficient through the years, crediting a lot of his success to his early decision to wrestle full time under the tutelage of Eric Ruggles.
Parker said Ruggles owned Liberty Wrestling and he began using his facilities. Then Ruggles became his personal coach.
"He's had the biggest influence on my wrestling of all my coaches," Parker said.
Meanwhile Parker became more successful on the mat at Cass.
Last year, he placed second in the area but was unable to compete further due to injury.
This season he again placed runner up in his area, then closed out his successful Cass career by capturing fifth place in the state in his weight division. During his years at the school he was a member of the 2008-AAAA State Duals champions, 2009 Region 7AAAA Traditional Runner-Up; 2009 AAAA Sectional Qualifier; 2010 State Duals, third place; 2010 Region 7AAAA Traditional Runner-up; 2010 Cass High Wrestler of the Year. Parker's varsity record was 66-13.
Parker's success this season came despite an injury to his right shoulder, one that he worked through because it was his final year at Cass.
"It was the hardest thing I've ever done but I was going to finish this season," he said.
D.L. Koontz, head wrestling coach at Cass, said Parker has been an integral part of the wrestling team several years.
He noted injuries cut short Parker's junior season.
"It was really good to see him overcome that this season and finish so well," Koontz said.
Koontz said Parker was a leader for the Cass wrestling team at meets.
"We needed a win and he stuck (pinned) his man and kind of got the ball rolling for the team," the coach said.
Koontz said Cumberland is getting not only a good wrestler but a good individual.
"He's a great kid and he's a leader," Koontz said. "He's someone you can count on to do the right thing and to get others to do the right thing, too."
The coach said Parker's success is founded on a lot of effort through the years. "He's a good student (3.0 GPA) who has worked very hard to become the wrestler that he is."
Koontz said he's also glad to see that Parker is joining Alex Foster at Cumberland.
"It's neat to see him and Alex go to the same school since they're such good friends," he added.
Parker said he's glad to join Foster at Cumberland and also is happy that he will be relatively close to home.
He said he looked at other schools much further away but ultimately chose Cumberland because it has the best program and made him the best scholarship offer.
"I like where the program is heading, and they have better coaches in my opinion," he said.
Jarad Swint, Cumberland head wrestling coach, said he is happy to have the Cass grad join the wrestling program at the NAIA school.
"Matt is going to be a great addition to the Cumberland University wrestling team," Swint stated. "He brings the right combination of wrestling, academics and character that the coaching staff is looking for in a recruit."
Parker said he will likely pursue a degree in sports medicine, athletic training or in history at the college.
Parker said is glad he pursued his academics and made college possible, adding his parents provided strong direction in that area. "My parents wanted to make sure I wasn't just a dumb jock," he laughed.