DR. JEFF PARRES has known Jeremy Maclin since the Eagles' 2009, first-round pick was 9 years old. You could say Parres approves of the pick; in fact, he likes him so much that "he's a son now."
Maclin has lived full time with the Parres family, in suburban St. Louis, since his sophomore year in high school, intermittently for several years before that, starting when Parres was his youth football coach.
"Jeremy's never known his father, and his mom has had some difficulties in life, off and on," Parres said outside the NovaCare auditorium yesterday, after Maclin and second-round running back LeSean McCoy finished their introductory press conferences. "Little league football, weeknights, I would take Jeremy home after practice. There were times that there was no one at home and the doors would be locked, and he would have to climb through the window to get in, wouldn't have dinner. Those were the tough times. I think it made him very mature; he's kind of seen both sides of some things."
Missouri receivers coach Andy Hill stressed yesterday that Maclin "didn't lose contact with his mother," and that it was Maclin more than the Parres family that made the decision.
"The living situation for him was not the best. He decided he needed to move out," Hill said. "He's really loyal to the people who have helped him."
"There wasn't really any one discussion," Parres said, in which Parres and his wife, Cindy, decided to add Maclin to their family, which already included two sons. "I look back on that and I think, 'How could you not?' Fortunately, we've got the means to do it. When you run across somebody's life who isn't as all tucked-in and perfect as yours is, I don't know how you could turn your back on it."
Maclin said both his adopted family and his real family helped make him who he is; he also credited God.
"I feel like I've gone through a lot of stuff in my life, throughout my childhood growing up," he said. "I feel like there's not much that can really faze me. That's why I feel I'm fine with anything that's thrown out there against me. Unfortunately, it did happen, but fortunately, I'm here in the great city of Philadelphia with a team who contends every year, and that's what I want to be a part of."
Jeremy's mother, Cleo, and his older brothers, Andre and Roshon, gathered at the Parres home Saturday for the first round of the draft, in which many experts had predicted the former Missouri star would go as high as seventh overall. Most mock drafts had him as the second-best wideout, behind Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, perhaps going 10th overall to San Francisco, or at worst, 17th to the Jets.
It was a long wait to 19th, and the trade up from 21st that gave the Eagles the opportunity to draft the guy yesterday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch called "arguably the most exciting player in Mizzou history." Andy Reid, like many observers, thought Maclin would be long gone when the Birds picked; they talked to him at the scouting combine but didn't ask him in for a predraft visit.
Maclin said getting the chance to go to what he sees as a top-tier team mitigated a lot of the frustration of slipping out of the first half of the first round. Parres said Reid's phone call - which they all initially thought might be from Cleveland, since the Browns were on the clock and the trade hadn't been announced - was "a bright spot in what had become a little bit of a disappointing day."
Maclin reiterated yesterday what he'd said right after he was chosen - that the surprise Raiders choice of Maryland wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey seventh overall "was an Al Davis-type pick," given the eccentric Oakland owner's emphasis on speed.
"Credit to him for running the fastest time at the combine," Maclin said. "I think that I'm in a little better situation here in Philly, and I'm going to make the best of this."
Concerns about whether wideout should have been a first-round priority for the Birds softened when they plucked Pitt running back LeSean McCoy in the second round, and then waited around through innumerable trades to draft Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram in the fifth.
Some fans seemed to question whether Maclin was too much like DeSean Jackson, despite about a 30-pound weight disparity. They seemed to be under the impression that this would be a bad thing. What, exactly, about Jackson's Eagles rookie record 62 catches for 912 yards, or his 17.4-yard playoff punt return average, did they not like?
"I'm not sure you can have too many playmakers on the football field," Hill said. Hard to imagine legions of Eagles fans arguing against that point.
"Obviously, he's a tremendous player," Maclin said of Jackson. "I'm a little bigger guy than he is. I'm a little bit of a bigger target, and I can do some different things than he can do. I'm not saying that I can do more things, just a little different."
Will Jackson's rookie success put more pressure on Maclin?
"If it is, so be it," Maclin said.
Hill said Maclin's first game, after his comeback from a serious ACL injury that killed his true freshman season, convinced the Missouri coaches they really had something special.
"His first game as a redshirt freshman, we played against Illinois in St. Louis, his hometown, and he returned a punt for a touchdown, nobody touched him. He scored two touchdowns that game, and he never let up the entire time he was at Missouri," Hill said. Maclin scored 32 times in 28 college games. "Everytime you think, 'Well, we've got Missouri bottled up,' defenses think they have us covered, all of a sudden, throw it to Maclin, he goes 80 yards. I just clap my hands and have a big smile on the sideline.
"He's a great young man, certainly the role-model-type young man that you want to represent your program, your state and your university. As a football player, he obviously has great speed, but he's one of the smartest guys we've ever had at Mizzou, certainly the guys I've coached at wide receiver. He knows what everybody's doing on every play. Whether it's his route or somebody else's route, he kind of knows the details of what they're doing.
"He'll have zero trouble adapting to the West Coast offense; he'll be fine. It's just something for the people who analyze things to talk about," Hill said.
Parres said that once it was clear Maclin would be a first-rounder, he didn't try to convince Jeremy to stay in school, though he won't turn 21 until Aug. 26, a few weeks before the start of his rookie NFL season. Parres said his surrogate son has the maturity to handle his new situation.
"He's very motivated," Parres said. "Being the third wide receiver picked in the draft is not sitting well with him, and I don't doubt that he will hold that chip on his shoulder and not let people forget if he outperforms [the others]." *
For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.