MLK senior shows Hart

Posted: October 18, 2013

THE PUBLIC LEAGUE'S all-time leader in receiving yardage hasn't even been at it for very long.

Martin Luther King senior Delane Hart became a full-time wide receiver just last season. What's also interesting, the 6-3, 200-pounder accumulated his yardage at three different schools.

But no matter what color jersey covered his back, Hart's mindset against opposing defensive players remained the same.

"It's either he'll be on my highlight tape or I'll be on his," said a smiling Hart standing just outside King, schoolbag strapped to his back wearing a long-sleeved purple t-shirt that read "It's good to be King" across the back.

After playing mostly quarterback during his freshman and sophomore years at Murrell Dobbins Tech, the 17-year-old Hart now owns 78 catches for 1,485 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Because of dipping grades, the North Philly native said he left Dobbins for now-closed Germantown, where he set a Bears record with 778 receiving yards as a junior. Yet, when controversial school closures claimed the school, Hart landed at King, a fierce former rival.

His two-catch, 80-yard performance in Week 6 this season against West Philadelphia broke Brad Wilson's 2010 record of 1,402 for Del-Val Charter.

However, growing up in an environment where drugs and violence plague city street corners, records on the field aren't only what Hart is looking for. A way out is what he truly seeks. A feat accomplished recently by his older brother.

The narrative isn't new. Young black males across the nation have sought solace in sports for generations, but the significance of Hart's journey isn't diluted. In fact, to hear him tell it, that's exactly what motivates him.

"You have a million and one people out here trying to work hard," Hart said. "But then again you have people standing on the corner trying to make money.

"I'm like, no. If you want to be remembered as something, be remembered as someone being great at whatever you're trying to do."

That advice came from his brother, 19-year-old Will Parks, a Germantown product now playing cornerback at the University of Arizona. The 6-1, 191-pound sophomore will make his first career start tomorrow when the Wildcats host Utah, which upset No. 5 Stanford last week.

"It's a great accomplishment," Parks said, referencing his brother's Pub record over the phone. "But at the same time we come from a tough environment and neighborhood in Philly, so to get out is also a big accomplishment."

Technically, the two are step-brothers, but both say the label is unnecessary.

"We've been brothers since we were toddlers," said Parks, who calls Hart "Smiley" because he's always grinning. "So we don't even think about anything but being brothers."

Hart said his him-or-me highlight-tape mentality stems from the pair's ultra-competitive sibling rivalry. One is a corner with size; the other is a sizable wide receiver. So, who gets the best of the matchup?

"Like I said, we have our battles," Hart said as a sly smile gave away the following admission.

"Sometimes he'll lock me down, and sometimes I go at him, but he's a little stronger than me right now so I have to work to get faster."

Parks acknowledged tricks of the trade from college give him a consistent edge against his little brother, but after workouts he always passes along tidbits.

"It's all business [in college]," Parks tells him. "You can't just throw receivers around. There will be DBs that are his size and he'll have to beat them another way."

Those tips have already helped Hart earn college offers from Delaware, Stony Brook, Buffalo, Old Dominion, Tulane and Eastern Michigan. Until then, he'll keep trying to punish high school defenses.

This week, King (5-2) travels to Overbrook (4-3) for a PL Class AAA matchup. Hart's crew has won five straight games since dropping its first two. They currently sit in third place behind first-place Mastery North and second-fiddle, for now, Franklin.

Fellow senior standout, and Hart's best friend, Joseph Walker is the Cougars' quarterback and is also coveted by Division I schools. Offers from Delaware, Stony Brook and Buffalo could make them teammates again, although Walker also has offers from Coastal Carolina and UMass.

Dontae Angus, a 6-6, 320-pound tackle, is another King senior; he is committed to Florida.

A proud Parks in Arizona is pleased by the attention his brother has earned, but wants him to stay hungry on the field and in the classroom, and to always remember what made it all possible.

"A humble mentality," Parks said. "There's a lot of people out here that get besides themselves when they do great things. [We] come from humble beginnings. So everything [we] do and are about to do we have to work for."

The academic struggles that began at Dobbins are no longer, Hart said. He also said he gravitates toward mathematics because he's good with numbers and made the honor roll last year.

And the transition to King has been smooth. Adjusting to new situations isn't difficult for him. In fact, that's what he prefers.

"I've been here all my life, but I want to experience something totally new," Hart said. "Learn a new lifestyle and learn a new culture. I want to get out of Philly to learn new stuff and see new things."

Family is his focus so before he leaves, Hart will pass along what his brother shared with him. He also praised his mother Tiameca Hart, 38, for her love and dedication, and expressed gratitude toward his grandparents Karean and Franklin Hart.

But he also plans to challenge his 10-year-old brother, Nadir McLeod, another football player.

"My relationship with my little brother is what Will had with me," Hart said. "I tell him to work. I'll push him until I leave for school like Will did for me.

"I know he's going to be better than me," he said of Nadir, before adding with his trademark smile, "I can't get mad at that. I'm teaching him so of course he's going to be better than me."

On Twitter: @AcecarterDN

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