Fifth-year senior defensive tackle David Parry took a big chance attending Stanford as a walk-on football player. It led to big rewards.
Parry, who will play in the East-West Shrine Game, appeared in 11 games, starting 10, this season and was one of the top reasons the Cardinal (7-5) ranked fifth nationally in total defense.
He's hoping a solid effort in Tuesday's Foster Farms Bowl, a 7 p.m. game against Maryland (7-5) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara to be aired on ESPN, could lead to an invitation to the NFL Combine.
Parry, who had a Division I offer from Navy and took an official visit to Penn, takes on challenges as he does opposing offensive linemen -- with all the ferocity he can muster. Don't be surprised if he becomes the second Marion, Iowa resident (after running back Cary Bender) to reach the NFL.
Parry, who had 30 tackles, including 4 1/2 sacks among 7 1/2 tackles for a loss, and six quarterback hurries this season, was "lightly" recruited by Jim Harbaugh's staff, which included an official school visit.
"I went to a few camps to try and get recruited," said Parry, officially listed at 6-2, 300. "They just didn't have a scholarship to offer."
That didn't stop the two-time all-state offensive lineman out of Linn-Marr High from coming to Stanford, despite the tuition costs, and the coaching staff welcomed him.
Vic Fangio was the defensive coordinator at Stanford in Parry's freshman season. Derek Mason, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, took over when Fangio followed Harbaugh to the 49ers. Lance Anderson is the current coordinator.
"The goal is to be the top defense in the country every year," Parry said. "It's great to have the older guys leading the way. We feed off each other's energy and have always held each other to high standards."
Parry was part of a defense that went 31 consecutive games holding opponents to under 30 points. Oregon ended that streak this year and the Cardinal still ranks second nationally in scoring defense.
Stanford has held each of its opponents, including the Ducks, to below their season averages in passing yards and total offense.
After a practice during his sophomore year, coach David Shaw brought the team together and announced that Parry, along with fullback Lee Ward, had earned scholarships.
"That was a huge weight off my shoulders and it took the pressure off my parents," Parry said. "Even after that, I stayed hungry."
Parry will be playing in his fourth professional football stadium after the Rose Bowl, which has hosted several Super Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona and Seattle.
He'll get his first live view of Levi's Stadium on Monday, when Stanford holds a walk through.
"It's going to be awesome," Parry said. "It's always fun to play in a pro stadium."
Parry also hopes to run into former Stanford teammates Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov, both members of the 49ers.
"We're blessed with the opportunity to play another games," Parry said. "I get to spend extra time with my teammates. We enjoyed the BCS games and our record this year gets us to this bowl. We appreciate it."
Despite Levi's Stadium being so close to Stanford, Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan said he began feeling like he was somewhere else after a recent practice at City College of San Francisco.
"We were just talking and you could the landscape in the background," Hogan said. "It was almost like being in Pasadena again.
"I thought, 'OK, we're in bowl week,'" Hogan said. "It was comfortable and we're enjoying being away. We'll enjoy the experience. But we know it's all about winning on Tuesday."
NOTES: Former Stanford Sports Information Director Gary Cavalli, the bowl's Executive Director, announced that the game will be dedicated to the memory of Sam Goldman, a legend in Bay Area press boxes before passing away earlier this season. "He worked with us on this bowl game for 12 years," Cavalli said. "We wanted to honor him." . . . Cavalli, who called the bowl game "Rose Bowl North," so said the Stanford band is planning a parody of the name of the bowl, which began as the Diamond Walnut Bowl, morphed into the Emerald Bowl, changed to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and is now called Foster Farms Bowl. "We've always stayed with the idea of food," Cavalli said. "We're going from nuts and mac and cheese to chicken." . . . Hogan, raised in Washington, D.C., has friends who grew up rooting for Maryland and he's played against several of the Terrapins. His aunt attended the school. Before making his official visit to Stanford, Hogan had made one other trip to visit an uncle living in Woodside. "But I was too young to remember anything," he said . . . Stanford is appearing in its program-best sixth straight bowl game, a streak that is bettered in the Pac-12 only by Oregon (10).