Building the brand of Notre Dame OL commit Parker Boudreaux
The words rang out over a thumping beat, courtesy of Chicago-based rapper Ghetty, introducing the world to its next larger-than-life offensive lineman.
“Blocking all the haters, and the fans, I entertain ‘em. Could have been a Florida Gator, but I chose Notre Dame.”
As the beat faded, drawing to a close more than two minutes of rapid-fire rap swagger, the nickname was repeated time and again, a letter and a form of capital married forever in hip-hop history.
But before there was P-Money, there was “Sparky.”
And before there was “Sparky,” there was Parker.
“My original nickname was Sparky, when I was pretty small freshman year,” said Parker Boudreaux, a consensus four-star offensive lineman and social media savant that will sign with Notre Dame on Wednesday. “My dad says it every morning when he wakes me up. He says, ‘Wake up, Spark.’”
Four years ago, Boudreaux was a relatively anonymous 6-foot-1, 190-pound freshman tight end and defensive end at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, Fla. But once his position changed, so did everything else.
“My coach pulled me into the office and was like, ‘You’re going to play left tackle next year,’” Boudreaux recalled. “I was like, ‘What?!’ I was so mad. I was about to transfer. I had never played offensive line, and I was 190 pounds. I was so mad.”
Soon, mad gave way to motivated. Boudreaux gained 40 pounds prior to his sophomore season, then 40 more pounds the following offseason as he embraced the role of an offensive lineman. The “Sparky Era” was over, thanks in part to social media.
During his sophomore season, Boudreaux created a Twitter account and proceeded to follow every college coach he could find. He dispersed his recruiting tape to the masses, and sure enough, the offers started rolling in.
First, Marshall. Eventually, Notre Dame, Penn State, Clemson and countless others.
During a visit to Georgia Southern early in his recruiting process, assistant coach Vic Cabral gifted Boudreaux the half-joking nickname “P-Money.”
Just like that, a brand was born.
“It kind of clicked, so I changed my name to that on Twitter,” Boudreaux said. “That’s when schools started to send me edits (photos) with money floating in the background or a whole bunch of money everywhere. It was getting funny. I don’t really take it seriously.”
Almost overnight, “P-Money” grew from a snowball into an avalanche. Boudreaux shared his list of top 10 and top five schools with Bleacher Report, and as his recruitment gained steam, fans continued to take notice. In March 2015, Fox Sports published a story comparing the 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive lineman’s appearance to WWE star and former UFC champion Brock Lesnar.
After visiting Notre Dame last summer, Boudreaux met Ghetty in Chicago and the rapper — who had previously chatted with Boudreaux on Twitter — pitched the idea of producing a song detailing the lineman’s recruitment.
“I don’t really believe it sometimes, because it’s so weird,” Boudreaux said of being the subject of a song. “I’m just a normal high school student-athlete. It’s really cool because I had never really heard of that happening before.”
The song, appropriately titled “P-Money,” has nearly 100,000 hits on YouTube. And Boudreaux, who launched his Twitter account three years ago solely to contact coaches, currently boasts more than 53,000 Twitter followers — and counting.
But that level of notoriety also came with a catch.
“I’m excited that I’m committed, because the other schools’ fans were just getting so crazy,” Boudreaux said. “They’d be messaging me and tweeting at me every day some insane stuff, like, ‘If you don’t come here, I’m going to be so mad at you.’ But I’m happy. Notre Dame is my second home and I can’t wait to get there.”
The aforementioned commitment was announced in predictably decadent fashion, as Boudreaux pulled a semi-truck in a Bleacher Report video, then revealed Notre Dame as his chosen collegiate destination.
That sort of bravado, though, may not fly in South Bend.
“I don’t think Harry will like it that much,” Boudreaux said of Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand with a laugh. “He’s the complete opposite. He’s never even tweeted anything before, so it’s funny to see him use Twitter.
“We were talking when he visited the house about how they have a fake (Twitter) account of him. He was so mad. He told his son to like call the FBI and stuff. It was hilarious. He wanted it taken down so bad.”
Boudreaux’s preposterously popular Twitter account, on the other hand, won’t be taken down any time soon. But despite the nickname, despite the song, despite the truck-towing videos, despite the surreal social media celebrity, “P-Money” understands that ultimately, he’s Parker Boudreaux.
And at Notre Dame, Parker Boudreaux will have to make a name for himself all over again.
“I know I’m a normal kid,” he said. “When I get to college I’m just going to be a regular student-athlete just like everybody else. That’s always in my mind.”