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MCGAHEE HELPS PARRISH CATCH WIND OF PICK

Willis McGahee is not only a talented running back, he is a good prognosticator.

When University of Miami wide receiver Roscoe Parrish said he spoke with Buffalo Bills receivers coach Tyke Tolbert last week, McGahee told his former college teammate they might be reunited in the NFL.

Sure enough, Parrish is headed to Buffalo after the team selected him in the second round Saturday.

"(McGahee) said, 'Don't be surprised if they pick you,' " Parrish said during a conference call. "And when I talked to him (Saturday), he said, 'I told you.' He's very excited that Buffalo took me and I'm a teammate of his again."

Parrish was a surprising pick considering wide receiver wasn't a pressing need. But despite his lack of ideal size, the 5-foot-9 3/4 , 168-pound Parrish is a speedster with too much big-play ability to pass up.

"In this world we live in you need playmakers, and that's what he is," said Bills Assistant General Manager Tom Modrak. "He's a strong kid for 170 pounds. He's small, but he plays strong and plays very tough. He's a competitive kid."

You had better be competitive to play at Miami, where the program rolls out talent like cars off an assembly line.

"(Miami receivers) play at a high level all the time," Modrak said. "And it's not just a high level on Saturdays, but it's a high level in practice and every day just because of the people that they are and who they have to compete with."

Parrish figures he's ready to play in the NFL because he has faced several NFL-caliber cornerbacks, particularly Hurricanes All-American corner Antrel Rolle. Parrish spoke proudly about how he held his own against the eighth overall pick in this draft.

"Going against Antrel Rolle in practice and going one-on-one really helped me a lot because Antrel Rolle is a big, physical guy," Parrish said. "We just competed every day, and I think that's going to help me out a lot going into the next level."

Parrish, a high school quarterback, was redshirted as a freshman in 2001 and served as a backup receiver the next two seasons. But he had a breakout year in 2004, leading the Hurricanes with a career-high 43 catches for 693 yards, and his eight touchdown catches led the Atlantic Coast Conference. He also ranked 11th in the nation with a 16.1-yard average on punt returns.

He displayed a flair for the dramatic in several games. He sparked a come-from-behind win over Virginia with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown and added a 25-yard score to clinch the 31-21 victory. A week later, he caught five passes for 141 yards and a 39-yard score.

Parrish's decision to turn pro a year early was cemented after his performance in the Peach Bowl, where he earned offensive MVP honors with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and four catches for 63 yards.

"That (Florida game) was a big key," Parrish told Miami-area reporters earlier this year. "Against a team like Florida, the game I had was icing on the cake."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com